United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO REMOVE
COUNSEL, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR NEW
COURT-APPOINTED COUNSEL, AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
TO WITHDRAW PLEA OF GUILTY [#44]
PAGE HOOD CHIEF, U.S. DISTRICT COURT.
September 16, 2015, Defendant Phillip White
(“White”) was charged by Indictment with
Carjacking (Count I) and Use of a Firearm During a Crime of
Violence (Count II). (Doc # 8) Pursuant to a Stipulated
Order, a jury trial was set for November 15, 2016. (Doc # 25)
Todd Shanker of the Federal Defender Office was appointed to
represent White. Shanker filed a Motion to Withdraw as
Counsel (Doc # 26), which was granted by the Court. (Doc #
28) The Court appointed John W. Brusstar to represent White
as counsel in November 2016. Pursuant to a Stipulated Order,
a jury trial was set for March 21, 2017. (Doc # 26) White
entered into a Rule 11 Plea Agreement with the Government. A
plea hearing was held on March 20, 2017, and the Court
accepted the Rule 11 Plea Agreement and White's plea of
guilty, finding that the plea was knowingly, freely, and
voluntarily made. (Doc # 42)
matter is now before the Court on White's requests to
remove counsel, be granted a new court-appointed attorney,
and for permission to withdraw his guilty plea. White alleges
that there has been a total and irreconcilable breakdown in
the attorney-client relationship to such an extent that it is
in his best interest that new counsel be appointed to
represent his interests.
also requests that he be allowed to withdraw his plea of
guilty to seek advice from newly-appointed counsel. The
Government has not filed a response.
Motion to Remove Counsel
Local Rules provide that an attorney making an appearance on
behalf of a defendant continues to represent the defendant
through an appeal unless the district court grants a motion
to withdraw prior to the notice of appeal being filed. E.D.
Mich. L.Cr.R. 57.1(a). It is well established that a criminal
defendant accused of a felony has a constitutional right
under the Sixth Amendment to be represented by counsel and to
have counsel appointed for him if he cannot afford one, or,
alternatively, to represent himself in such proceedings.
Faretta v. California, 442 U.S. 806 (1975). The
“essential aim of the Amendment is to guarantee an
effective advocate for each criminal defendant rather than to
ensure that a defendant will inexorably be represented by the
lawyer whom he prefers.” Wheat v. United
States, 486 U.S. 153, 159 (1988). The Sixth Amendment
does not guarantee a “meaningful relationship”
between a defendant and his attorney. Morriss v.
Slappy, 461 U.S. 1, 14 (1983). A motion for new court
appointed counsel based upon a defendant's
dissatisfaction with his counsel is addressed to the sound
discretion of the trial court. United States v.
White, 451 F.2d 1225 (6th Cir. 1971). The
defendant's right “to court appointed counsel does
not carry with it the right to select a particular
Court grants White's request to remove Mr. Brusstar as
his counsel because both White and Mr. Brusstar agree that
there has been a complete breakdown in the attorney-client
relationship. The Court, however, does not make any finding
regarding Mr. Brusstar's representation of White. The
Court also grants White's request for a new
Motion for Permission to Withdraw Guilty Plea
test for validity of a guilty plea is whether the plea was
entered voluntarily and intelligently. Railey v.
Webb, 540 F.3d 393, 417 (6th Cir. 2008); Hill v.
Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 56 (1985). If followed, Rule 11
discourages attacks on the validity of a guilty plea.
Id. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 11(d)
A defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere:
(1) before the court accepts the plea, for any reason or no
(2) after the court accepts the plea, but before it imposes