FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]]
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Kern County, No.
BF144483A, No. BF151668A, John W. Lua, Judge.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Matthew Missakian, under appointment by the Court of Appeal,
for Defendant and Appellant.
D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief
Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant
Attorney General, Carlos A. Martinez and Marcia A. Fay,
Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
by Kane, J., with Hill, P. J., and Gomes, J., concurring.
Cal.Rptr.3d 234] KANE, J.
day set for jury trial, appellant Armando T. Loya
contemplated a plea agreement negotiated with the prosecution
for a principal four-year prison term that involved
disposition of both cases summarized below. He entered into a
protracted and mutually frustrating discussion with the trial
judge, who asked multiple times if appellant wanted to plead
or proceed to trial. Appellant, however, principally
questioned why he could not enter a plea of not guilty by
reason of insanity (NGI), which was a question he had raised
on previous occasions. Without stating any reason, and just
after appellant indicated his desire to take the plea
agreement, the court said it would not approve the plea and
withdrew it from further consideration. Trial commenced.
Bakersfield Superior Court case No. BF151668A (the present
matter), a jury convicted appellant of reckless evasion of a
peace officer (Veh. Code, § 2800.2; count 1); hit and
run resulting in property damage (Veh. Code, § 20002,
subd. (a); count 2); driving under the influence of a drug
(Veh. Code, § 23152, former subd. (a); count 3); being
under the influence of a controlled substance (Health & Saf.
Code, § 11550, subd. (a); count 4); resisting or
delaying a peace officer (Pen. Code, § 148, subd.
(a)(1); count 6); and driving with a suspended license (Veh.
Code, § 14601.1, subd. (a); count 7). The jury found him
not guilty of vandalism (Pen. Code, § 594, subd.
(b)(2)(A); count 5). The trial court found true that
appellant had suffered a prior strike and four prior prison
terms. Appellant was sentenced to an aggregate term of 10
years in state prison.
companion case No. BF144483A, appellant was found in
violation of probation and was sentenced to six years in
state prison, to be served concurrently with the 10 years
imposed in the case above.
appeal, appellant raises four issues. We find merit to his
claim that the trial court abused its discretion in rejecting
the plea bargain in the absence of any stated justification.
We reverse the judgment and [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 235] remand for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion. However,
due to a lack of prejudice, we reject appellant's
contentions that he was denied his statutory right to plead
NGI or that the trial court abused its discretion in denying
two motions pursuant to People v. Marsden (1970) 2
Cal.3d 118 [84 Cal.Rptr. 156, 465 P.2d 44] ( Marsden
). Finally, in light of the remand, we do not reach
appellant's last issue that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel and due process.
Trial facts from the present matter
did not present any evidence. The prosecution established the
following relevant facts.
November 9, 2013, appellant drove through a stop sign in
Bakersfield, and then failed to yield when police officers
pursued him in marked police vehicles with flashing emergency
lights and sirens. During the pursuit, appellant drove
through four red lights, travelled 60 to 70 miles per hour,
and swerved around other vehicles. Officers observed
appellant " bouncing up and down" on his
driver's seat, and he was gesturing with his hands as if
he was waving at the pursuing officers. When the chase
entered a residential neighborhood, officers cancelled the
high-speed pursuit, turned off their lights and sirens, and
reduced their speeds. They continued to follow appellant at a
safe speed. Appellant initially pulled away, but then began
to slow down. During a turn, appellant lost control of his
vehicle and struck a chain-link fence. He ran from his
chased appellant on foot. He ignored officers' commands
to stop and continued to flee. At one point, appellant looked
back at an officer after the officer yelled for him to stop,
but appellant continued to run away. Officers lost sight of
appellant after he jumped a fence. Law enforcement
established a perimeter. About 30 to 40 minutes later,
officers located appellant hiding in a parked car in a nearby
apartment complex. He was lying on the floorboard on his
chest and side, trying to be as low as possible between the
back passenger seat and the front seats. He was hiding under
articles of clothing. He failed to comply with officers'
commands and resisted
efforts to be arrested. After a brief struggle, appellant was
removed from the vehicle and handcuffed. After he was
restrained, appellant's face began to appear pale and he
was sweating profusely. He became unresponsive and was
transported to a hospital.
physician determined appellant was unresponsive due to a
methamphetamine coma. A blood test confirmed that appellant
was impaired due to this drug in his system.
his arrest, appellant placed a telephone call from county
jail to an acquaintance. The call was recorded and played for
the jury. Appellant said he fled from police because he had
" shit" in his car.
Procedural history of the present matter
the importance to the issues on appeal, we set out in some
detail the procedural history.
Competency questions arise
November 26, 2013, criminal proceedings were suspended for
the purpose of determining if appellant was competent to
stand trial and cooperate with defense counsel. On January 3,
2014, the court found appellant competent and criminal
proceedings were reinstated.
The Marsden hearings
Marsden hearings occurred prior to trial. Each is
summarized below as relevant [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 236] to the
issues raised in the present appeal.
The first hearing
first Marsden hearing occurred on November 26, 2013
(on the same day defense counsel requested a competency
evaluation). Appellant raised claims regarding his appointed
counsel that are not relevant to the present appeal. The
court found no basis to substitute counsel and denied
The second hearing
second Marsden hearing occurred on January 3, 2014,
during which defense counsel said appellant had been
diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,
and had been previously found incompetent and sent to Patton
State Hospital during his previous case. Defense counsel
[Appellant] also told me he wanted to plea [NGI] at the
prelim, and I told him I wouldn't--I didn't want to
do that at the prelim because I didn't think it would
be--I didn't think it would change the prelim, that would
be a call the trial attorney would have to make.
But that, combined with him telling me he had paranoid
schizophrenia issues combined with him believing that I lied
to him when I don't believe I ever lied to him, and his
not wanting to communicate with me, made me believe that
there was enough information to declare a doubt."
hearing further comments, the court denied the
The third hearing
January 16, 2014, a third Marsden hearing took
place. During the hearing, defense counsel stated the
following: " [Appellant] also told me that he was
schizophrenic which when I interviewed him before the first
setting of the case, at which time I--it seemed that we could
have communication and he seemed lucid and I didn't think
I needed to do a [Penal Code section] 1368 [motion]. But he
told me he wanted to plead NGI after the Marsden and
because he seemed irrational and I had doubts about--if--I
began to have doubts about his ability to help--to help--to
help with his representation and I spoke with my supervisor
and I thought that I should [file a Penal Code section 1368
motion for] him at that time."
hearing further comments, the court granted the
Marsden motion, finding that the attorney-client
relationship had broken down.
The fourth hearing
April 16, 2014, the matter was transferred from the presiding
department to the trial court. At approximately 10:13 a.m.,
Marsden hearing commenced. Appellant made the
following comments: " I asked [my new defense counsel]
about an NGI plea. He told me there's no way he would
change my plea to an NGI plea because a judge wouldn't
accept it, which isn't right, because that's a
plea--you can change your plea to that anytime because
there's four pleas, and he lied to me about that."
Cal.Rptr.3d 237] The court later informed appellant that
defense counsel's statement that the judge would not
accept an NGI plea at this time was true. The following
[APPELLANT]: So you're telling me that I cannot change my
plea to an NGI plea, never, because I went to Patton State
Hospital, and they taught us that there's four pleas.
They told us that we could change our plea at any time to an
NGI. You're telling me that Patton State Hospital--I went
there--that they lied to me and they told me a lie, then,
because we went there--I went there so they could teach me
about the court; right? They taught me who the judge is, who
my attorney is, and about the four pleas. So you're
telling me that they lied to me?
THE COURT: I'm not telling you--I'm not telling you
anything about what they told you. I'm telling you that
[APPELLANT]: That's what he taught me--
THE COURT: [Appellant]. [Appellant].
[APPELLANT]:--when I was at Patton State Hospital for a
[Penal Code section] 1368; so then they're reteaching me