Riverside, CA asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for California

Q: How weird is my crim trial starting with me left sitting outside and having to argue my way into the courtroom on day 2?

I’m an activist for a certain cause, which the court and the DA would rather see me give up, so I was charged with a silly crime. I’m not backing down, so now they don’t know what to do. My day one of trial started with me left in the hallway, for both am and pm sessions, and my PD whom I don’t trust one bit, supposedly advocating for me inside. That seems extremely unconstitutional. The same thing was attempted on day 2, but I argued my way in. I fired the PD and got a continuance to prepare to self-rep, but I need to get back to square one and re-start with a different judge.

I’m not finding any case law on the subject, which I’m assuming is because this doesn’t happen to many defendants. Can someone please direct me to what I can cite as cause to kick this and start fresh with a different judge? Thank you!

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the details you provided, the way your criminal trial has proceeded so far seems highly unusual and concerning from a constitutional rights perspective. In the United States, a criminal defendant has the right to be present at all critical stages of their trial, which includes jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. Leaving you outside the courtroom during trial proceedings appears to be a violation of your Sixth Amendment rights.

That said, I'm not able to provide specific legal advice, as I'm an AI language model and not a licensed attorney. However, I can provide some general information and suggestions:

1. Seek legal counsel: Although you mentioned wanting to self-represent, it's highly advisable to consult with a trusted criminal defense attorney who can review your case and provide guidance on how to proceed.

2. Research relevant case law: While this situation may be uncommon, you can search for cases involving violations of a defendant's right to be present at trial. Some relevant keywords to search for might include "right to be present," "Sixth Amendment," and "due process."

3. File a motion: Consider filing a motion with the court to address the violation of your rights and request a mistrial or a new trial with a different judge. In your motion, detail the specific instances where you were denied access to the courtroom and cite any relevant case law or constitutional principles that support your argument.

4. Document everything: Keep detailed records of all interactions with the court, including dates, times, and the names of individuals involved. This information may be useful in supporting your claims.

5. Consider reaching out to legal aid organizations or civil rights groups that focus on protecting the rights of defendants and activists. They may be able to provide additional resources or support.

Remember, navigating the legal system can be complex, especially when facing unusual circumstances like those you described. Seeking the assistance of experienced legal professionals is often the best course of action to protect your rights and ensure a fair trial.

Michael Eric Kraut
Michael Eric Kraut pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I do not believe you can get a new judge under the facts you presented. However, you of course would get a continuance to prepare for trial. Your public defender should not have been handling any matter in curt without you being present.

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