Faretta v. California Case Brief Summary | Law Case Explained

Faretta v. California Case Brief Summary | Law Case Explained

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Faretta v. California | 422 U.S. 806 (1975)

Abraham Lincoln famously said that a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Though that may sometimes be true, does the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel allow for self-representation? The United States Supreme Court addressed this issue in Faretta versus California.

A state prosecutor charged Anthony Faretta with felony theft in state court. The trial court appointed Faretta a public defender. Before the trial started, Faretta asked the court to dismiss the public defender and allow Faretta to represent himself at trial. Faretta stated that he had a high school education and previously had represented himself in a prior case. After initially permitting Faretta to represent himself, the court changed its mind after Faretta displayed ignorance about certain legal issues. Over Faretta’s objection, the court reappointed the public defender to represent him.

A jury convicted Faretta, and the trial court sentenced him to prison. On appeal, the California Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction. The California Supreme Court denied review. Faretta successfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review his case.

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