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Court Finds thats Multiple Trial Delays by Counsel Have Prejudiced the Defendant’s Case


Defendant was charged with driving criminal violations involving driving under intoxication (DUI). The complaint alleges that defendant operated a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition. In the blood alcohol test that was conducted, alcohol was found in his blood. The court proceedings encountered several delays. The defendant informed his attorney that the court required him to be present and ready for trial. The same was also required on the part of his counsel. The court said that it was possible that the counsel might be punished if he did not appear on the date fixed by the court.

The record of the case revealed that the court was about to adjourn at the end of the day but waited for the counsel to arrive. The counsel expressed his view that he would not be ready for trial until a given date. But the judge said that parts of the court were not available at that schedule due to renovation work and judicial vacations. The defendant said that he was scheduled to begin trial on his another case in one week, and he could not proceed to trial before that because he needed time to prepare for such upcoming trial.

The counsel recounted the history of the postponements of the proceedings, noting that the case had been postponed at various times because both parties were not ready and because no parts of the court were available.

The court, however, opined that the counsel had already two years to prepare the case and such was an enough time. The court at a certain time was not aware of the previous delays which had occurred in the case. The counsel did not inform the court of the fact that he had murder trial scheduled to begin before another judge. Thus, following the call of the judge in that case, the court contacted the parties in the instant case and told them that the trail would not proceed as previously scheduled.

In another case, the court conducted a call with that counsel and indicated that it appeared that the latter would not be available to try the instant matter for an indefinite period of time and that consideration should be given to relieving the counsel so the case could be tried by another lawyer. The counsel, with respect to the postponement of the case before the court said that he did not want him to do a murder case so that he could do an out defendant DWI.

In another case, the counsel again did not appear before the court because he was engaged on trial in a case involving an incarcerated defendant. Later on, the counsel informed the court that he had an unanticipated break in his schedule and had some upcoming availability for trial although some personal appointments he had would have to be accommodated. But the counsel did not communicate his availability for trial. He did not submit any information about his availability in writing.

According to the law, the trial courts have the inherent authority to impose reasonable trial rules. Because of that, the court should be hesitant to interfere in the relationship of the counsel and his client and may not do so arbitrarily. Such interference may be tolerable, however, where the tactics of the defense may compromise the orderly management of the trial or the fair conduct of the proceedings. A counsel may be removed where a court makes findings to support a conclusion that a counsel’s conduct has delayed or disrupted the proceedings or resulted in prejudice of both the parties.

The court believes that the counsel in this case must be relieved as counsel for the accused. The counsel was too busy to try all of the cases he has taken on in anything approaching a timely manner. The counsel would have simply limited the number of cases he took on or arranged for other counsels to try some of his pending matters a long time ago. The fact that he was unwilling to do that requires what is a clearly undesirable result.

The delays in this case have prejudiced the defendant.

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