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The People v. Donald Roots

August 1, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
DONALD ROOTS, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 08F04879)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hull , J.

P. v. Roots CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A jury convicted defendant Donald Roots of three firearm-related offenses and of making criminal threats. The jury also sustained a personal-use-of-a-firearm enhancement but was unable to reach a verdict on a fifth count involving an assault with a vehicle. The trial court sustained a recidivist allegation, after which it imposed a prison sentence of 18 years, four months.

We note the enhancement brought the underlying conviction within the definition of a violent felony (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (c)(8)), limiting defendant's presentence conduct credits to 15 percent of his custody credits. (Id., § 2933.1; unless otherwise specified, statutory references that follow are to the Penal Code.)

Defendant's sole contention on appeal is that the trial court erred in failing to suspend the proceedings a second time to conduct a competency evaluation after his trial attorney expressed doubts about his ability to participate meaningfully in his own defense. (§ 1368.) We affirm the judgment.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Our resolution of defendant's assertion of error does not require us to relate the circumstances underlying his convictions.

Based on the representations of the deputy public defender, in June 2008 Judge Fall suspended these criminal proceedings and appointed two doctors to evaluate defendant's competence to stand trial. When the two doctors came to different conclusions, the court appointed a third doctor.

The July 18, 2008 report stated the referral was based on defense counsel's observation of defendant's abrupt change in demeanor. Having until then been supremely self-assured, defendant was now so emotionally dejected that he was almost unable to communicate with counsel. After two interviews, the doctor did not find any cognitive problems with defendant other than narcissistic elements in his personality that led him to an exaggerated perspective of himself and events. According to the doctor, the emotional breakdown leading to his inability to communicate was likely the result of a lapse in his "narcissistic defenses," although those had "reconstituted."

The July 24 report stated this second doctor had one interview with defendant. The doctor found that defendant's demeanor was inappropriately euphoric and his responses were also evasive, making it difficult to have a coherent dialogue with him. The doctor believed defendant was in the manic phase of a bipolar disorder, and, while defendant was able to understand the proceedings, he was not capable of assisting counsel competently because he could not communicate coherently.

The third doctor's report was based on a two and one-half-hour interview with defendant. Defendant's demeanor was normal, if playful; he did not have any apparent cognitive difficulties, and he communicated clearly. Defendant expressed the opinion that his trial attorney had requested competency proceedings only to have time to work on another case.

Based on the three reports, Judge Winn concluded that defendant was competent to stand trial and reinstated the proceedings. Defendant immediately made what was apparently his fourth motion for substitution of appointed counsel. The substance of the motion is not at issue, so we note only that the complaints were unreasonable and defendant's comments do not appear irrational. When Judge Winn denied the motion, defendant asserted his intent to represent himself. After advising defendant of the ...


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