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People v. Doss

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

September 26, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
JIMMIE L. DOSS, JR., Defendant and Appellant.

Contra Costa County Superior Court No. 5-121454-3 Honorable Nancy Stark, Honorable John Laettner, Honorable Leslie Landau

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Candace Hale, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

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Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorney General, Catherine A. Rivlin and David H. Rose, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

HUMES, J. [*]

Defendant Jimmie L. Doss, Jr. appeals from a judgment entered after a jury convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon and battery. The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in revoking Doss’s right to represent himself under Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806 [45 L.Ed.2d 562, 95 S.Ct. 2525] (Faretta).[1] We conclude that the trial court applied an incorrect standard, and we conditionally reverse the judgment and remand for a new hearing for the court to apply the correct standard. At the hearing, the court may consider any misconduct by Doss since its previous ruling. If the court determines that Doss is not entitled to represent himself in a new trial, the judgment shall be reinstated. If the court determines that Doss is entitled to represent himself, he shall receive a new trial.

I.

Factual and Procedural Background

This case centers on the distinction between a defendant’s right under Faretta, supra, 422 U.S. 806 to self-representation in a criminal proceeding and an inmate’s right to certain jailhouse privileges as a consequence of self-representation. In legal terms, a self-represented defendant has in propria persona (pro. per.) status in the proceedings. Such a defendant who is incarcerated may also be given pro. per. privileges to engage in certain activities, such as making telephone calls for case-related purposes, to facilitate his or her ability to participate in the proceedings. This case involves both of these concepts and the different legal standards that apply to them.

Doss has an extensive criminal history. He was originally incarcerated in the Martinez Detention Facility for charges unrelated to this case.[2] He was allowed

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to represent himself to defend those charges (i.e., he had pro. per. status), and he was given pro. per. privileges in jail to facilitate his self-representation.

The charges in this case were brought after Doss hit a fellow inmate on the hand with a broom handle in December 2011. He was charged with felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious bodily injury.[3] He was also alleged to have personally inflicted great bodily injury in connection with both charges.[4]

Doss asked for pro. per. status in this case, and his request was initially granted. But a few months later, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office suspended his pro. per. jail privileges on an emergency basis, and the People then moved for reconsideration of his pro. per. status.[5]

The revocation of Doss’s pro. per. privileges and status was considered at two hearings in May 2012, both of which were held before the judge who had granted Doss pro. per. status in the other case but who was not the judge who had originally granted Doss’s pro. per. status in this case. At the first hearing, the sheriff’s office submitted a binder containing reports of 57 incidents between January 2010 and April 2012 that it contended demonstrated Doss’s “destructive and violent actions” and upon which it had relied to suspend his pro. per. jail privileges. Some of the incidents in the reports were unrelated to Doss’s pro. per. privileges or status. Doss routinely refused to obey officers, threatened and assaulted jail personnel and other inmates, possessed contraband, damaged thousands of dollars worth of property, and otherwise undermined jail security. A lieutenant testified that Doss had displayed an unprecedented level of “totally violent, disruptive, destructive[, ] and... unruly” behavior and likened him to “a bull in a china shop.”

Other incidents in the reports, however, were relevant to Doss’s pro. per. privileges or status. When not permitted to make pro. per. calls, Doss responded on various occasions by threatening to break the jail’s windows

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and sprinkler pipes, “us[ing] his waist restraints as a weapon and caus[ing] damage to the facility, ” “br[eaking] the sink off the wall in his room and us[ing] the parts to break out the window in his room, ” and “threaten[ing] to damage the facility... [and] striking the light fixture in his room with enough force that he had to be placed in a safety cell in intake in leg restraints.” Doss also used his pro. per. telephone calls for improper purposes. During a call with his legal runner, who wanted to resign, Doss threatened to “ ‘fucking kill [him] and gas [his] mamma.’ ” Doss was also overheard ...


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