398 F.2d 548 (1st Cir. 1968), 7064, Rolon Marxuach v. United States

Docket Nº:7064.
Citation:398 F.2d 548
Party Name:Jesus ROLON MARXUACH, Defendant, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:July 11, 1968
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 548

398 F.2d 548 (1st Cir. 1968)

Jesus ROLON MARXUACH, Defendant, Appellant,

v.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 7064.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

July 11, 1968

Page 549

Benicio Sanchez Rivera, San Juan, P.R. with whom Albert J. Krieger, New

Page 550

York City, was on the brief, for appellant.

Charles E. Figueroa, Asst. U.S. Atty., with whom Francisco A. Gil, Jr., U.S. Atty., and Blas C. Herrero, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty., were on the brief, for appellee.

Before ALDRICH, Chief Judge, McENTEE and COFFIN, Circuit Judges.

ALDRICH, Chief Judge.

Defendant Rolon Marxuach was convicted on three counts of an indictment involving a transfer of 125 grams of heroin on March 28, 1967, allegedly violating 26 U.S.C. §§ 4704(a) and 4705(a), and 21 U.S.C. § 174, and he appeals. Because of the questions raised, a detailed recitation is required.

The defendant was arrested on July 17. On August 7 an indictment was returned charging him and a co-defendant Soto Ayala. Arraignment was set for August 11. On August 11 the defendants appeared, both represented by a single attorney, Mr. Cesar Andreu Rebas, who asked for a ten-day continuance to plead. This request was granted. On August 21 the defendants pleaded not guilty. Attorney Andreu announced to the court that Mr. Benicio Sanchez Castano was joining him as co-counsel for each defendant. The court gave defendants until September 11 for motions, and stated that trial was provisionally scheduled for September 18, later changed to September 25. On September 11 defendants moved for particulars and for a continuance. The court on September 15 ordered the particulars, which were furnished on September 21. and the case was continued for trial to be had on October 2. On September 27 defendants filed a further motion for continuance, with accompanying affidavits. This motion was denied on October 2, and it was ordered that the jury be empanelled the following day. On October 3 defendant Soto failed to appear. Defendant Rolon moved for a continuance on the ground that Soto was in the hospital, alleging simply that he was 'an important witness.' The motion-- as had been all other motions--was signed by both of the aforementioned counsel. The court denied the motion. This denial presents no question, as Soto did testify at the eventual trial.

Also on October 3, a bomb was discovered attached to the automobile of a government witness. When this was brought to the attention of the court at a hearing in chambers the court inquired of defendant's counsel if they knew anything about it. This question upset Mr. Sanchez, aggravating a heart condition and causing him to be hospitalized. In connection with the bomb, the government witness testified that Rolon, on September 18 in the Court-house, had threatened not to 'permit' him to attend the trial. Thereafter Rolon sought a continuance in the light of Mr. Sanchez's hospitalization and stated that he did not wish to be represented by Mr. Andreu. The court denied the motion, designated Mr. Andreu to be counsel, empanelled a jury, and ordered trial for Rolon to commence October 4.

On October 4 defendant Rolon failed to appear. Testimony was received from the attending physician that although Soto had had his appendix removed on October 2, there were no objective symptoms or other medical indications, either before or after the operation, to confirm Soto's reported pain or any need for the operation. Later in the day Rolon was discovered in a hospital. The physician at this hospital reported that Rolon had nothing the matter with him, and he was brought to court in the custody of the marshal. Bail was thereupon revoked.

Rolon's trial finally commenced on October 6, and he was convicted.

We deal first with Rolon's contention that he was deprived of effective representation of counsel. In so doing we readily concede that Mr. Sanchez, whose reputation is well known to this court, was not falsifying either as to his ignorance of the bombing, or as to his physical Condition. The court's perhaps

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unfortunately phrased question doubtless sprung from its understandable disturbance over the bombing incident. At the same time, at this stage of the proceedings a continuance was not due simply as a courtesy to Mr. Sanchez. The sole question is whether it was error to designate Mr. Andreu to try the case. This question arises, as has been apparent, in a very unusual factual situation.

We, of course, agree that a defendant is entitled to proper representation, which means that counsel should be competent, and have adequate time to prepare. In the present case there can be no question as to the latter. Mr. Andreu had from the very beginning actively represented Rolon as well as Soto, whose case the record shows to be...

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