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REVERSED: Denial of Self-Representation

California v. Orosco Docket: D079723 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: August 17, 2022. Appellant Jesse Orosco appeals his conviction for one count of assault on a peace officer by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. He argued: (1) there was no substantial evidence the victim was a peace officer; (2) the trial court erroneously denied his request to represent himself under Faretta v. California 422 U.S. 806 (1975); (3) the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on the definition of a peace officer and his duties; and (4) the abstract of judgment should be corrected. The Court of Appeal found as a matter of law based on the undisputed evidence that the victim was working as a peace officer at the time of the incident. The Court concluded, however, that the trial court violated Orosco’s Sixth Amendment rights by denying his Faretta request for self-representation based on a finding that he was “unable to sufficiently represent himself.” There was no substantial evidence that Orosco was mentally incompetent to represent himself under the applicable legal standard. Because the error was reversible per se, the Court reversed the judgment and did not decide the other issues raised.

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