MARTINEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS OF CAL., FOURTH APPELLATE DIST.

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
98-7809
Petitioner 
Martinez
Respondent 
Court of Appeals of Cal., Fourth Appellate Dist.
Advocates
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner)
(San Diego, California, argued the cause for respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Salvador Martinez, a self-described self-taught paralegal with 25 years of experience at 12 different law firms, was working for a Santa Ana, California law firm when a client gave him $6,000.00 to bail her boyfriend out of jail. The bail was never posted and Martinez was subsequently charged with grand theft and the fraudulent appropriation of the property of another. Martinez chose to represent himself at trial before a jury, which acquitted him of theft, but convicted him of embezzlement. Martinez then filed a timely notice of appeal, a motion to represent himself, and a waiver of counsel. The motion to represent himself was denied by the California Court of Appeal. The court explained: "There is no constitutional right to self-representation on the initial appeal as of right. The right to counsel on appeal stems from the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, not from the Sixth Amendment....The denial of self-representation at this level does not violate due process or equal protection guarantees."

Question 

Does a criminal defendant have a constitutional right to choose to represent himself on direct appeal?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Court of Appeals of Cal., Fourth Appellate Dist., 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Right to Counsel

No. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that here is no constitutional right to self-representation on direct appeal from a criminal conviction. "We are not aware of any historical consensus establishing a right of self-representation on appeal," wrote Justice Stevens for the Court. Noting that the rights established by the Sixth Amendment "are presented strictly as rights that are available in preparation for trial and at the trial itself" and that the Amendment "does not include any right to appeal," Justice Stevens concluded, "[i]t necessarily follows that the Amendment itself does not provide any basis for finding a right to self-representation on appeal." Justice Stevens added "[o]ur experience has taught us that "a pro se defense is usually a bad defense, particularly when compared to a defense provided by an experienced criminal defense attorney." Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, and Antonin Scalia wrote concurring opinions.

Cite this Page
MARTINEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS OF CAL., FOURTH APPELLATE DIST.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 11 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_7809>.
MARTINEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS OF CAL., FOURTH APPELLATE DIST., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_7809 (last visited September 11, 2014).
"MARTINEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS OF CAL., FOURTH APPELLATE DIST.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 11, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_7809.