Marsden Motion Law & Legal Definition


A Marsden motion gets its name from the case of People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118. It is a request to the court by a criminal defendant to discharge their lawyer on the basis of being incompetently or inadequately represented by counsel.

A defendant seeking to discharge his appointed counsel and substitute another attorney must establish either 1) that appointed counsel is not providing adequate representation, or 2) that he and counsel have become embroiled in such an irreconcilable conflict that ineffective representation is likely to result. People v. Barnett (1998) 17 Cal.4th 1044, 1085; People v. Mayfield (1997) 14 Cal.4th 668, 795.) Denials of Marsden motions are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard.