Court Rules that Indigent Defendant not Entitled to Choose Appointed Counsel

The court held that the defendant was not entitled to substitution of counsel. It also held that the trial court did not err in allowing the prosecution to amend its witness list, or in scoring OV 1. He was convicted of armed robbery and resisting or obstructing a police officer. He was sentenced to 51 months to 20 years’ imprisonment for the robbery conviction and time served (180 days) for the resisting or obstructing conviction. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the trial court improperly denied his request for substitution of counsel, noting that “[b]ecause defendant’s generalized complaint ‘lacked specificity and did not involve a difference of opinion with regard to a fundamental trial tactic,’ it did not warrant substitution of counsel.” Further, counsel “participated fully in the trial and advocated for defendant at sentencing. Apart from the fact that defendant has not claimed that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel, there is simply nothing in the record to suggest that any of the situations identified in Cronic occurred here.” The court also rejected his argument that the trial court abused its discretion when it allowed the prosecution to amend its witness list to include a witness (TP) to be called at trial, finding he made no showing of prejudice. “Defendant knew how to contact [TP] because he said he had been to her house and he provided her contact information to the police. [He] also knew the substance of [TP’s] testimony. After [he] disclosed that he had been with [TP] at the time of the robbery, a detective contacted [TP]. She did not confirm defendant’s claim and the detective confronted defendant with that fact. Further, defense counsel admitted that [she] had been identified ‘in the police reports from day one’ and that those reports, as well as [TP’s] written statement, had been provided to him several months earlier.” Finally, the court rejected his argument that the trial court erred in scoring OV 1. “The victim testified that he saw the barrel of a semi-automatic handgun protruding from defendant’s pocket. Based on the security video of the robbery and still shots taken therefrom, the trial court found that the object was ‘a gun for sure’ and that defendant pointed it ‘straight out there’ at or toward the victim. There is nothing in the record to suggest that the gun was anything other than a firearm.” Affirmed.

Right to counsel; U.S. Const. amend. VI; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 20; People v. Marsack; The right to effective assistance of counsel; People v. Meissner; People v. Pickens; Principle that an indigent defendant does not have the right to counsel of his choice;People v. Flores; Principle that an indigent defendant is not entitled to have new counsel appointed “whenever and for whatever reason dissatisfaction arises with counsel provided for him”; People v. Bradley; Appointment of substitute counsel upon a showing of good cause and where substitution will not unreasonably disrupt the judicial process; People v. Mack; “Good cause” defined; People v. O’Brien; People v. Charles O. Williams; People v. Harlan; Whether a defendant’s “general unhappiness with counsel’s representation” constitutes good cause for substitution of counsel;People v. Strickland; Witness list amendment; MCL 767.40a; Sentencing; Scoring of OV 1; MCL 777.31; “Weapon” defined; People v. Lange

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