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People v. Davis.

2023 CO 15. No. 21SC388. Sixth Amendment—Right to Counsel—Prejudice in General.

April 10, 2023

Davis was represented by the public defender’s office. He requested a continuance so that his appointed public defender could represent him at trial. The trial court denied the request, stating that because of the simple nature of the case, it perceived no prejudice in denying the continuance, though that required substitution of counsel. Davis appealed, arguing that the Sixth Amendment includes a right to continuity of representation by a particular appointed counsel even though it does not include a right to initial selection of appointed counsel.

The Supreme Court considered whether criminal defendants have a Sixth Amendment right to continued representation by a particular public defender, and under what standard a trial court should determine a defendant’s continuance request to enable continued representation with appointed counsel.

The Court held that, although indigent defendants have an interest in continuity of counsel that must be considered by a court, it is not a right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment. Any Sixth Amendment right to continuity of counsel is a component of the right to choose counsel, and it is settled law that defendants do not have a right to choose a particular appointed attorney. However, when considering a continuance to allow appointed counsel to represent a defendant at trial, a court should consider whether denying the continuance and substituting counsel would prejudice the defendant.

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