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09-2516 U.S. v. Sellers


09-2516 U.S. v. Sellers


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Criminal Procedure
Counsel of choice

Where the district judge arbitrarily denied a continuance to enable the defendant to retain counsel of his choice, the conviction must be vacated.

“The district court also had the duty to consider that Sellers’s new counsel and counsel of choice, Volpe, informed the court that ‘I would be doing a great, great disservice to Mr. Sellers if I attempted to try this case this week.’ R. 74, Tr. 5/19/08 at 12. Furthermore, Sellers made it clear that he was not prepared to proceed pro se. ‘Well, Your Honor, I can’t represent myself.’ Id. at 7. Thus the court knew that Sellers was left with three choices: First, he could opt for a lawyer, not of his choosing, who, although somewhat familiar with the case, was unprepared for trial, and with whom he could not get along or agree. Second, he could pick a lawyer of his choice who was completely unfamiliar with his case and wholly unprepared for trial; or third, he could represent himself, again without any time to prepare for trial or study the law. Sellers’s reasons for needing a continuance were facially valid, yet the district court failed to explore them or balance them against the legitimate reasons for denying the motion for a continuance. See Carlson, 526 F. 3d at 1026-27.”
Vacated and Remanded.

09-2516 U.S. v. Sellers

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Lozano, J., Rovner, J.

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