State v. Johnson

274 N.J. Super. 137, 643 A.2d 631 (Super. Ct. App. Div. 1994)



The granting of leave by the court is generally in the discretion of the court and depends upon such considerations as proximity of the trial date and possibility for the client to obtain other representation. Courts recognize a presumption against granting a request to withdraw. When deciding whether to permit withdrawal, a trial court must balance its inherent and necessary right to control its own calendar and the public's interest in the orderly administration of justice against the attorney's reasons for requesting withdrawal. 


Defendant was convicted of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, aggravated assault, and resisting a police officer in the performance of his duties. He claimed that he was entitled to a new trial because the trial court refused to excuse his attorney, sever the trials, dismissed the case against the co-defendant and when it improperly admitted evidence which was obtained by unconstitutional means. The court reviewed defendants' several contentions and found his appeal to be without merit. The court affirmed defendant's convictions for possession with intent to deliver cocaine, aggravated assault, and resisting a police officer. The court held that defendant's counsel was effective, evidence was properly obtained and admitted, severance was unnecessary and that dismissal of co-defendant was proper. The court also held that evidence was overwhelming so directed verdict was properly denied.


Did the trial court err in denying defendant's request to permit his counsel to withdraw?




The court held that the trial court properly denied defendant's request to permit his counsel to withdraw as trial date was close, and having counsel remain in the case would not in and of itself support an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The court also held that pursuant to N. J. R. Crim. Proc. 3:15 § 2, the trial court properly balanced the potential prejudice to defendant's due process rights against prosecution's interest in not presenting two trials for the same facts and evidence. The court held that evidence seized from defendant was properly obtained, and the evidence against defendant was overwhelming, so a directed verdict was properly denied.

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