People v. Robinson

Citation994 N.Y.S.2d 711,2014 N.Y. Slip Op. 07018,121 A.D.3d 1179
Decision Date16 October 2014
Docket Number105167.
CourtNew York Supreme Court Appellate Division
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Anthony ROBINSON, Appellant.

121 A.D.3d 1179
994 N.Y.S.2d 711
2014 N.Y. Slip Op. 07018

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent
Anthony ROBINSON, Appellant.


Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York.

Oct. 16, 2014.

994 N.Y.S.2d 712

Tracy A. Donovan–Laughlin, Cherry Valley, for appellant.

John M. Muehl, District Attorney, Cooperstown (Michael F. Getman of counsel), for respondent.




Appeal from a judgment of the County Court of Otsego County (Lambert, J.), rendered March 5, 2012, upon a verdict convicting defendant of the crime of criminal sale of marihuana in the third degree.

Defendant was charged in an indictment with criminal sale of marihuana in the third degree stemming from his alleged sale of more than 25 grams of marihuana to a confidential informant (hereinafter CI). Shortly before defendant's trial was scheduled to commence, it was discovered that defendant's assigned attorney had recently represented the CI in an unrelated criminal matter. At a conference concerning the apparent conflict, defense counsel suggested that the conflict of interest resulting from his previous representation of the CI could be avoided by precluding the People from presenting the CI's testimony at trial. The People opposed this relief and, instead, asked the

121 A.D.3d 1180

court to grant an adjournment and assign new counsel. County Court resolved the matter by relieving defendant's attorney, assigning new counsel to represent defendant and adjourning the trial for several weeks. At the conclusion of the jury trial that ensued, defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced as a second felony offender to two years in prison followed by a term of postrelease supervision. He now appeals.

County Court did not abuse its discretion in substituting assigned counsel

994 N.Y.S.2d 713

against defendant's wishes.1 A criminal defendant's right to counsel of his or her choice is not absolute and may properly be circumscribed where defense counsel's continued representation of the defendant would present a conflict of interest (see Wheat v. United States, 486 U.S. 153, 159–164, 108 S.Ct. 1692, 100 L.Ed.2d 140 [1988] ; People v. Sides, 75 N.Y.2d 822, 824, 552 N.Y.S.2d 555, 551 N.E.2d 1233 [1990] ; People v. Tineo, 64 N.Y.2d 531, 536–537, 490 N.Y.S.2d 159, 479 N.E.2d 795 [1985] ; People v. Arroyave, 49 N.Y.2d 264, 270–271, 425 N.Y.S.2d 282, 401 N.E.2d 393 [1980] ). Here, upon learning of the CI's identity,2 defendant's original assigned attorney informed the court that he possessed confidential information from his prior representation of the CI that would affect his ability to cross-examine that witness, thereby establishing the existence of an actual conflict of interest (see People v. Tineo, 64 N.Y.2d at 536–537, 490 N.Y.S.2d 159, 479 N.E.2d 795 ; People v. Hall, 46 N.Y.2d 873, 874–875, 414 N.Y.S.2d 678, 387 N.E.2d 610 [1979], cert. denied 444 U.S. 848, 100 S.Ct. 97, 62 L.Ed.2d 63 [1979] ; People v. Gordon, 272 A.D.2d 133, 134, 709 N.Y.S.2d 503 [2000], lv. denied 95 N.Y.2d 890, 715 N.Y.S.2d 382, 738 N.E.2d 786 [2000] ). Faced with “the dilemma of having to choose between undesirable alternatives” in addressing the conflict (People v. Tineo, 64 N.Y.2d at 536, 490 N.Y.S.2d 159, 479 N.E.2d 795 ), County Court's decision to assign new counsel and adjourn the trial rather than preclude the testimony of the CI altogether constituted a proper exercise of its broad discretion under the circumstances presented (see id.; People v. Hall, 46 N.Y.2d at 874–875, 414 N.Y.S.2d 678, ...

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1 cases
  • People v. Rahaman
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • December 3, 2020 juror No. 116. Given that the record discloses that the court conducted a probing and tactful inquiry (see People v. Robinson, 121 A.D.3d 1179, 1181, 994 N.Y.S.2d 711 [2014] ) and deferring to its credibility determination that the foreperson could remain impartial and did not hear juror......

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