Defendant is representing himself (with the court's permission) for a while, but then the trial court relieves him and appoints counsel, finding that the defendant has been dilatory. The defendant then tells the court:
"I haven't done nothing to take this privilege away from me.
You‟re taking my constitutional rights from me and that is a reversible error
in [sic] your part. And I‟m going to take this on a writ. And if this is all you have
to say, this is all I have to say. I'll take this . . . up on a writ. You‟re not going to
take my constitutional rights when I have the rights to represent myself. This is
my life, your Honor. You're dealing with my life. . . . You want to fuck with me, I'll fuck
Now, I know what you're thinking. It's not good to threaten a judge. Doesn't work. Rarely, if ever, productive.
But you know what the weird part is here?
Defendant turns out to be right.
He gets sentenced to death, but the California Supreme Court reverses. Unanimously, no less. And in an opinion (1) by Justice Corrigan, that's (2) less than a dozen double-spaced pages. Wow. (Compare that opinion, by the way, to the other unanimous death penalty opinion that the California Supreme Court published today, which tops out at 162 pages.)
Mr. Becerra was correct. There were, in fact, insufficient grounds for the trial court to relieve him of his pro per status.
Death penalty reversed. Retrial. After nearly twenty years in the California Supreme Court.