State v. King, 051920 NCCA, COA19-1084

Docket Nº:COA19-1084
Opinion Judge:COLLINS, JUDGE.
Party Name:STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. RICHARD DANIEL KING, IV
Attorney:Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Lisa B. Finkelstein, for the State-Appellee. Epstein Law Firm, by Drew Nelson, for Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Judges STROUD and INMAN concur.
Case Date:May 19, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

v.

RICHARD DANIEL KING, IV

No. COA19-1084

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 19, 2020

An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Heard in the Court of Appeals 28 April 2020.

Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 16 July and 28 August 2019 by Judge Jerry R. Tillett in Dare County Nos. 17CRS051424-25 Superior Court.

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Lisa B. Finkelstein, for the State-Appellee.

Epstein Law Firm, by Drew Nelson, for Defendant-Appellant.

COLLINS, JUDGE.

Defendant appeals from judgments entered upon jury verdicts of guilty of statutory rape and two counts of statutory sex offense, and a judgment for attorney's fees. Defendant argues that the trial court committed structural error by applying the wrong standard when assessing Defendant's request for a continuance, and erred by issuing a civil judgment for attorney's fees without personally addressing Defendant. Because Defendant's request for reconsideration of the trial court's denial of his trial counsel's motion to withdraw was not a request for a continuance, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's request for reconsideration, we reject Defendant's structural error argument. Because Defendant was not given an opportunity to be heard before the trial court entered the civil judgment for attorney's fees against him, we vacate the order for attorney's fees and remand the case.

I. Background

Defendant was indicted on 13 November 2017 on two counts of statutory rape and two counts of statutory sex offense. On 5 July 2019, ten days before the case was scheduled for trial, defense counsel filed a written motion to withdraw as counsel for Defendant. That motion was denied. Defendant's case was called for trial on 15 July 2019, at which time defense counsel, Mr. Yacobi, addressed the trial court as follows: Judge, . . . I filed a motion for me to withdraw from the case due to-- what I saw as a potential conflict with representation. And I notified the State and I went over to talk to my client about it and spoke to him about it to make sure that, A, he was aware, and B, to see if he consented to my withdrawal, which he said he did.

Now I know we need to address that, for one, Judge, and my client would at the appropriate time if the Court so chooses he would like to address the Court as well.

Defense counsel acknowledged that his motion had been denied pre-trial and that nothing had changed from his point of view since that denial. Defense counsel stated, however, that Defendant "wanted to address the Court about that." The trial court allowed Defendant to personally address the Court, at which time Defendant stated, I spoke with Mr. Yacobi and he expressed to me that he has a conflict of interest in my case. My financial status has...

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