STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Henderson County
Nos. 05 CRS 6239-42
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney
General E. Burke Haywood, for the State.
Gilda C. Rodriguez, for the defendant-appellant.
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
Defendant was indicted by a grand jury for trafficking in
methamphetamine by possession and transportation and for
trafficking in cocaine by possession and transportation. Defendant
was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Defendant was
convicted by a jury of all charges. At sentencing, the trial court
dismissed the weapons charge with no objection from the State.
Defendant appeals from the judgment entered upon the convictions
for trafficking in methamphetamine and cocaine.
In his sole assignment of error, defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his request for new counsel. The standard of review of denial of a defendant's request to substitutecounsel is abuse of discretion. State v. Sweezy, 291 N.C. 366, 371-72, 230 S.E.2d 524, 529 (1976). To be granted substitute counsel, the defendant must show good cause, such as a conflict of interest, a complete breakdown in communication, or an irreconcilable conflict which leads to an apparently unjust verdict. State v. Gary, 348 N.C. 510, 516, 501 S.E.2d 57, 62 (1998) (quotation omitted). We have held that a defendant will not be appointed new counsel simply because the defendant is dissatisfied with his attorney's services, and the effectiveness of counsel will not be gauged by the amount of time he spends with the defendant. State v. Hammonds, 105 N.C. App. 594, 596-97, 414 S.E.2d 55, 56- 57 (1992).
Prior to jury selection for defendant's trial, defendant requested that the trial court appoint him new counsel. Defendant complained that his appointed counsel had not spent enough time with him and that defendant had not been given sufficient time to review the evidence that would be presented against him. Defendant also alleged that his counsel was incompetent to the case and that defendant did not know what charges had been brought against him.
When the trial court asked defendant's counsel to respond, counsel stated that defendant had been incarcerated for a period of nine months for multiple felony charges that had accumulated during that period and that defendant had been served with the indictments for those charges. Counsel also stated that he had provided the discovery materials from the State to defendant and that he hadreviewed the evidence with defendant. Counsel asserted that he had been meeting with defendant about once per month. More specifically, counsel stated that approximately two weeks earlier he had relayed a plea offer to defendant on the charges to be tried, had met with defendant once after that and then again just before coming to court that day.
The trial court then reviewed with defendant the charges for which he was being tried and denied defendant's request for new counsel. However, as the trial court called for the jury to be brought into the courtroom, defendant made a new request to represent himself. After a lengthy colloquy with defendant during which the trial court again explained the charges, the trial court denied defendant's request. However, the trial court did state that it would consider permitting defendant to question witnesses.
Defendant has failed to show that there was good cause for the appointment of new counsel. Defendant has shown neither conflict or breakdown in communication between him and his counsel nor a conflict of interest that would indicate a Sixth Amendment issue. See Gary, 348 N.C. at 516, 501 S.E.2d at 62. Defendant has made only vague assertions that his counsel was incompetent and that defendant was unprepared to go to trial due to unfamiliarity with the charges and the evidence. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting these vague assertions and relying instead upon counsel's representation that the defense was ready to go to trial. This assignment of error is overruled.
No error. Judges CALABRIA and JACKSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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