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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Billie Renee Brown pleaded guilty, without a plea agreement, to felony theft and to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Brown’s court-appointed attorney was unavailable at the time of her sentencing hearing; so, over Brown’s objection, the trial court appointed a substitute attorney to represent her at that hearing. The trial court assessed punishment in each case at two years’ confinement in a state jail facility, with the two sentences to be served concurrently. The cases have been appealed separately and briefed separately. This case concerns Brown’s theft conviction. Brown’s first appellate attorney filed a brief in which he concluded, from his review of the record and the related law, the appeal was frivolous and without merit. The brief thus met the requirements of Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), and Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d 503, 509 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). This court conducted an own investigation of the record to discover if there are arguable grounds for Brown’s appeal. The court discovered the trial court’s sua sponte appointment of substitute counsel for the sentencing hearing. At that time, the trial court overruled Brown’s objection to the sentencing proceeding without the presence of her previous court-appointed attorney. The trial court stated to Brown, “Just so you’ll understand, these three lawyers represent every defendant that comes through this court. Okay? So Mr. Jones is as much your lawyer as Mr. Cooper is; and I won’t do anything different.” The court concluded that the trial court’s sua sponte appointment raised the issue of whether the lower court reversibly erred by appointing new counsel over Brown’s objection, and without first finding Brown’s original counsel had a conflict of interest or was no longer competent to represent Brown. The court abated the appeal to the trial court to appoint new appellate counsel to address this and any other grounds that might support Brown’s appeal. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. A trial court may not unilaterally remove a defendant’s attorney without “extraordinarily good cause.” Ex parte McFarland, 163 S.W.3d 743 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005). The record lacks any showing of “extraordinarily good cause” for the substitution of Brown’s attorney of record over Brown’s objection. As such, the trial court constitutionally erred in denying Brown her previously appointed attorney. Brown was not without an attorney to represent her. Because there was not total deprivation of the right to counsel, the error was not structural. When a constitutional error has occurred and is subject to harm analysis, the court must reverse the trial court’s judgment “unless the court determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not contribute to the conviction or punishment.” Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2(a). Brown’s substituted trial counsel informed the trial court that Brown had been working with her attorney of record in securing additional recommendation letters from out of state. “The record demonstrates that these additional letters were unavailable, and we cannot fairly speculate what persuasive effect those letters might have had to lessen Brown’s ultimate punishment. We therefore cannot say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the trial court’s error did not contribute to Brown’s receipt of the maximum punishment of two years in this case.” OPINION:Morriss, CJ; Morriss, CJ, Ross and Carter, JJ.

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