Faretta v. California

422 U.S. 806 (1975)


Faretta (D) was charged with grand theft. The Superior Court Judge assigned a public defender to represent D. D requested that he be permitted to represent himself. D had once represented himself in a criminal prosecution, he had a high school education, and he did not want to be represented by the public defender because he believed that that office was 'very loaded down with . . . a heavy caseload.' The judge told D he was 'making a mistake' and emphasized that in further proceedings D would receive no special favors. After establishing that D wanted to represent himself and did not want a lawyer, the judge, in a 'preliminary ruling,' accepted D's waiver of the assistance of counsel. The judge indicated, however, that he might reverse this ruling if it later appeared that D was unable adequately to represent himself. Prior to trial, the judge sua sponte held a hearing to inquire into D's ability to conduct his own defense and questioned him specifically about both the hearsay rule and the state law governing the challenge of potential jurors. The judge ruled that D had not made an intelligent and knowing waiver of his right to the assistance of counsel, and also ruled that Faretta had no constitutional right to conduct his own defense. He appointed a public defender to represent D. D's request for leave to act as co-counsel was rejected, as were his efforts to make certain motions on his own behalf. The jury found D guilty as charged, and the judge sentenced him to prison. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial judge's ruling that D had no federal or state constitutional right to represent himself. The California Supreme Court denied review. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.