By Noe Herrera
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Mario Rene Krejdovsky, facing felony charges here Tuesday, repeatedly requested that Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill allow him to represent himself—but the judge refused, citing mental competency concerns.
Krejdovsky, wearing a gray jail jumpsuit, appeared in custody before Judge Hill through Zoom. Krejdovsky faces three charges including cruelty against a dependent adult or elder, assault with enough force to cause great bodily injury, and stalking.
Prior to his court date, Krejdovsky was evaluated for his mental competency after he claimed he was mentally ill. Later, he chose to represent himself due to unspecified disagreements with the public defender’s office.
After reviewing Krejdovsky’s case, Judge Hill told Krejdovsky “the court has some concerns about proceeding with you representing yourself.” He continued, “I am going to at least provisionally, based on what I read here, terminate your pro per status.”
“I have already been cleared by Dr. Murphy, your Honor,” Krejdovsky responded, referring to his mental competency status.
“I know, I have that report, but these things…” started the judge, before Krejdovsky said, “I could put more things into context if your Honor would have a private meeting. It all pertains to the case.”
“You’re going to have to listen to me. I know you have your strong opinions about representing yourself. It doesn’t really make a difference to me if you represent yourself or have an attorney. But, I also have an obligation to ensure that you’re competent to represent yourself,” continued Judge Hill before he was again interrupted.
“I am extremely competent, your Honor. For the record, I would like to say that I have been in custody for 90 days,” said the accused.
Judge Hill responded, “You keep interrupting the court. You cannot represent yourself if you keep interrupting the court and interrupting proceedings…here’s what we are going to do; we are going to appoint the public defender to defend you, provisionally. I have a real question whether you are competent enough to represent yourself.”
Krejdovsky spoke over Judge Hill again, “May I speak, your Honor?”
The judge jumped in, noting, “Listen to me, otherwise I am just going to remove you from the courtroom and we will just proceed and I will just make the rulings I am going to make. I want you to be present so you can hear my reasoning and my thought process. If you are not willing to listen to me, then we are going to remove you from the courtroom. I am not trying to deny you any of your rights, I am trying to proceed with the trial in a fair and orderly way.”
Krejdovsky continued to interrupt, after which Judge Hill decided that “it is unlikely that you are going to be representing yourself because of your inability to follow the court’s orders and directions. You continue to interrupt me, you can’t do that.”
Krejdovsky claimed that his assigned defense attorney did not want to talk to him about his case.
“I wanted to prove to the courts that everyone should have a right to due process. The ACLU should look into it. It’s unconstitutional. The constitution states everyone has a right to a speedy trial. So far I have been denied my basic rights and I do have an extreme conflict of interest with the public defender’s office.”
“Dr. Murphy indicated—just be quiet—Dr. Murphy indicated that she thought that he was competent enough to represent himself. That report is a little bit old. I will appoint the public defender and we will continue this hearing to see how we are going to proceed,” concluded Judge Hill.
Judge Hill then assigned Deputy Public Defender Mark Gregory Saatjian to the case, instructing him to “review the report that is confidential, the DA won’t look at it. Then we will return and if he needs a Marsden motion, then we will do a Marsden motion. If it means that after having talked to him and after reviewing the report, you declare 1368, then we will approach it that way.”
A Marsden motion allows the accused to formally fire their public defender if there is a conflict between the accused and the attorney, law malpractice, or if the attorney is ineffective.
California Penal Code section 1368 states that a judge can order the defendant’s attorney to determine the defendant’s mental competency. If the attorney believes their client is mentally incompetent, a further hearing regarding the defendant’s mental competency will take place.