State v. Goodine

Decision Date25 February 1991
Citation587 A.2d 228
PartiesSTATE of Maine v. Dana GOODINE.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

Stephanie Anderson, Dist. Atty., Diane Powers (orally), Asst. Dist. Atty., Portland, for the State.

Marshall Waldron (orally), Portland, for defendant.

Before McKUSICK, C.J., and ROBERTS, WATHEN, GLASSMAN and BRODY, JJ.

BRODY, Justice.

Defendant Dana Goodine appeals from his convictions entered in the Superior Court (Cumberland County, McKinley, J.) after a jury found him guilty of theft by receiving in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 359 (1983) and leaving the scene of an accident in violation of 29 M.R.S.A. § 894 (1978). Goodine contends that the court (Perkins, J.) erred in denying his appointed counsel's request for leave to withdraw from representation and in failing to inquire into the reasons for the requested withdrawal. Finding no error, we affirm the judgments.

Goodine's indictment arose out of his identification as the driver of a stolen car involved in a collision in Portland on October 31, 1988. Prior to his arraignment on March 24, 1989, counsel was appointed to represent him. Goodine states on appeal that he gave his lawyer the names of two alibi witnesses whom he wanted contacted. After Goodine's lawyer interviewed the potential witnesses, however, he informed Goodine that a jury would not find them credible and that he would not call on them to testify. Goodine also states that he wanted to take the stand in his own behalf, but counsel refused to let him because of his prior criminal record.

On July 24, 1989, Goodine and his lawyer appeared in court for jury selection, after which the case was continued for trial. A few days later, according to Goodine, he discharged his lawyer because he would not conduct Goodine's defense in a manner satisfactory to him. Counsel filed a request for leave to withdraw on July 31, 1989. 1 Although he asked for a nontestimonial hearing estimated to take fifteen minutes, the court denied that request without further inquiry. Goodine was convicted on September 12, 1989, after a jury trial at which neither he nor any other witnesses testified in his behalf.

On appeal, Goodine first argues that the court erred in denying his appointed counsel's request for leave to withdraw. He contends that the court effectively forced him to proceed to trial with a lawyer in whom he had no confidence and with whom he had no rapport. He also contends that he was required to accept a trial strategy with which he disagreed and that denied him the opportunity to present himself and his witnesses to the jury. As a result, he argues, the court deprived him of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. 2

The denial of a motion for withdrawal or substitution of counsel is generally discretionary with the court. See State v. Clark, 488 A.2d 1376, 1377 (Me.1985); State v. Stinson, 424 A.2d 327, 331 (Me.1981). Although an indigent defendant has the right to be represented by a lawyer, Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 29-33, 92 S.Ct. 2006, 2008-10, 32 L.Ed.2d 530 (1972); State v. Stinson, 424 A.2d at 331, he has no right to be represented by a lawyer other than the one who has been appointed to represent him except for good cause. United States v. Allen, 789 F.2d 90, 92 (1st Cir.1986). Only when the defendant can establish "good cause, such as a conflict of interest, a complete breakdown of communication or an irreconcilable conflict which [could] lead[ ] to an apparently unjust verdict" must the court substitute new counsel. McKee v. Harris, 649 F.2d 927, 931 (2d Cir.1981).

The record does not substantiate Goodine's allegations of a "complete breakdown" in his relationship with his lawyer. As a general rule, we will not consider an issue on appeal unless it was raised in the trial court and the record on appeal is sufficient to allow an informed review of the questions involved. State v. Desjardins, 401 A.2d 165, 169 (Me.1979). 3 Because the record discloses no more than counsel's statements in his request for leave to withdraw that his services were "no longer desired" and that Goodine was "seeking alternate counsel," both clearly insufficient to establish good cause, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in denying counsel's request.

Goodine next argues that the court had a duty to inquire into the reasons for his dissatisfaction with counsel in order to exercise its discretion in an informed manner and that the court abused its discretion when it failed to make any inquiry at all. We do not agree that the court's failure to ascertain the reasons for the requested withdrawal and substitution of counsel in this particular instance amounted to an abuse of discretion.

In evaluating whether the trial court's denial of a request for leave to withdraw constituted an abuse of discretion, we must consider the adequacy of the court's inquiry into the defendant's complaint. United States v. Allen, 789 F.2d at 92; see State v. Clark, 488 A.2d at 1377; State v. Stinson, 424 A.2d at 331. It is generally accepted that further inquiry is required "whenever the stated reasons for wanting substitute counsel, on their face, present substantial grounds for granting the motion or clearly call for further inquiry by the court." Hudson v. Rushen, 686 F.2d 826, 829 (9th Cir.1982). The court must take the time to inquire, therefore, when a defendant voices "objections to appointed counsel," United States v. Allen, 789 F.2d at 92, "a seemingly substantial complaint...

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6 cases
  • State v. Brewer
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • August 5, 1997
    ...¶11 "The denial of a motion for withdrawal or substitution of counsel is generally discretionary with the court." State v. Goodine, 587 A.2d 228, 229 (Me.1991). Here, counsel raised the possibility of a conflict of interest one day before the jury selection began and the court was appropria......
  • State v. Donovan
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • August 8, 1997
    ...sentencing. "The denial of a motion for withdrawal or substitution of counsel is generally discretionary with the court." State v. Goodine, 587 A.2d 228, 229 (Me.1991) (citations omitted). "The sixth amendment right to counsel does not confer upon a defendant an absolute right to counsel of......
  • In re J.R., Docket No. Aro–12–411.
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • June 18, 2013
    ...constituted an abuse of discretion, we must consider the adequacy of the court's inquiry into the defendant's complaint.” State v. Goodine, 587 A.2d 228, 230 (Me.1991). “A court need not tolerate unwarranted delays, and, if ... the [defendant's] attempted exercise of choice [of counsel] is ......
  • State v. Deering
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • July 14, 1992
    ...raised in the trial court and the record on appeal is sufficient to allow an informed review of the questions involved." State v. Goodine, 587 A.2d 228, 229-30 (Me.1991); State v. Desjardins, 401 A.2d 165, 169 (Me.1979). In the instant case the informant identified Deering in court and test......
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