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People v. Rainey.

2021 COA 35. No. 17CA1133.  Criminal Law—Right to Counsel of Choice—Sixth Amendment—Indigent Defendant.

March 18, 2021

Defendant was charged with second degree kidnapping and several misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. The district court appointed counsel to represent him. The trial was delayed and continued multiple times for reasons not attributable to the defense. Then, at a pretrial hearing, defendant’s public defender requested a continuance due to a calendar conflict. The trial judge denied the continuance based on judicial efficiency, and two other public defenders from the same office represented defendant at trial. A jury found defendant guilty of second degree kidnapping and criminal mischief.

On appeal, defendant contended that the district court’s denial of his request for a continuance violated his Sixth Amendment right to continued representation by his counsel of choice. An indigent defendant is entitled to continued representation by court-appointed counsel of his or her choice in the absence of a demonstrable basis in fact and law to terminate that appointment. When the defendant seeks a continuance to allow continued representation by his or her appointed counsel, the district court must apply the factors enumerated in People v. Brown, 2014 CO 25. Here, the district court did not apply the Brown factors.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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