March 21, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Defendant’s Request to Look for Lawyer Did Not Implicate Sixth Amendment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Travis on Monday, March 4, 2019.

Sixth Amendment—Counsel of Choice—Motion to Continue—Abuse of Discretion.

The People challenged the decision of a division of the court of appeals that concluded that Travis’s request to “look for and pay for a lawyer” was an invocation of her Sixth Amendment right to be represented by counsel of her choice. The supreme court held that Travis’s request did not implicate her Sixth Amendment right to counsel of her choice and that the trial court’s decision to deny Travis’s request to continue her trial to “look for and pay for a lawyer” was not an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court reversed the division’s decision and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Remand to Determine Whether Defendant Hired Specific Attorney or Entire Firm

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Stidham on Thursday, September 11, 2014.

Sentencing Hearing—Sixth Amendment—Right to Counsel—Continuance.

A jury found defendant guilty of multiple sex offenses involving three minor children. The district court convicted him, adjudicated him a habitual criminal based on various prior convictions, and sentenced him to forty-eight years to life in the custody of the Department of Corrections. At a resentencing hearing, the court denied defendant’s request for a continuance based on his objection that an associate from the firm, R.T., instead of the attorney from the firm he had hired, H.S., was there to represent him. The resentencing hearing proceeded, and the district court ultimately imposed the same sentence.

Defendant argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it denied his request for a continuance of his resentencing hearing. It is unclear from the record whether defendant hired H.S. personally or the firm. Therefore, the case was remanded to make this determination and for further findings. If defendant hired H.S. personally, the court will need to vacate the current sentence and set a resentencing hearing at which H.S., defendant’s current counsel, or defendant’s retained counsel can appear. If defendant hired the firm, the court should consider and make a record of the appropriate factors in deciding whether it should have continued the resentencing hearing to allow defendant to be represented by H.S. If it finds it should have granted defendant’s requested continuance, the court should vacate the sentence and reset the resentencing hearing.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Trial Court Erroneously Denied Party Its Counsel of Choice

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Hoskins on Monday, September 8, 2014.

Disqualification of Retained Counsel of Choice—Colo. RPC 1.9(a).

In this original CAR 21 proceeding, the Supreme Court reviewed the trial court’s order disqualifying petitioners’ retained counsel of choice under Colo. RPC 1.9(a). The trial court found that counsel previously represented another party in the same matter for which counsel now represents petitioners, and that the former client and petitioners have materially adverse interests. The Court held that, because the record before it was insufficient to support a finding that the interests of petitioners and the former client are materially adverse in this criminal proceeding, the trial court abused its discretion by disqualifying petitioners’ retained counsel of choice under Colo. RPC 1.9(a). Accordingly, the Court made the rule absolute, reversed the trial court’s order disqualifying petitioners’ counsel of choice, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Defendant’s Right to Counsel of Choice Outweighs Right to Conflict-Free Representation

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Nozolino on Monday, March 25, 2013.

Disqualification—Waiver of Right to Conflict—Free Counsel.

The Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it disqualified defendant’s counsel of choice, Rosalie Roy and Kimberly Chalmers, from representing him in this case. The Court analyzed the factors critical to the determination of whether defendant must be allowed to waive conflict-free representation, and found that the balance weighed in favor of defendant’s preference for continued representation by Roy and Chalmers. Accordingly, the Court made the rule absolute and remanded the case for an advisement on the record so that defendant may decide whether to waive conflict-free representation.

Summary and full case available here.