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Loophole that Takes Away Your Right to Counsel

Lopez, who speaks limited English, couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, so in keeping with her constitutional right to representation, an attorney from the San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office was appointed to handle her case. As a pretrial matter, that lawyer, Joy Hlavenka, challenged the legality of the stop that led the cops to secure evidence that Lopez was intoxicated. Hlavenka won the challenge, meaning the evidence against Lopez would be suppressed and prosecutors would not be able to use it to try her.

Without that evidence, they had no case, so the judge dismissed the charges. But the prosecutors were undeterred and filed what is known as an interlocutory appeal, challenging the judge's decision to ditch the evidence. A panel of three trial judges from the San Bernardino Superior Court would hear the case. If they sided with the prosecution, the evidence would be re-introduced and Lopez would again have to face the DUI charge.

Given that the appeal was critical for Lopez, the public defender's office sought to have a lawyer appointed to represent her interests before the appellate panel. The court refused, claiming Lopez didn't have a right to counsel. If she had been convicted and sentenced to jail on the charge, she would have had counsel appointed to handle her first appeal. But here, the court said, since Lopez wasn't yet jailed for any crime, she was not entitled to appellate representation.


...[T]he Court of Appeal agreed that Lopez had no constitutional right to a lawyer as the prosecutors sought to revive their evidence -- logic that appears to pervert a defendant's rights under the Sixth Amendment. At the request of the public defender's office, the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.


By min | July 25, 2018, 11:53 AM | Liberal Outrage