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United States v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 9, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
D-1 Adam Dean Brown, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR NEW COUNSEL AND MOTION TO ADJOURN TRIAL

          Sean F. Cox United States District Court Judge

         A grand jury indicted Defendant Adam Dean Brown on five drug charges: (1) conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance (death resulting) (Count I); (2) possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (Count III); (3) possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (Count IV); (4) distribution of a controlled substance (death resulting) (Count V); (5) distribution of a controlled substance (serious bodily injury resulting) (Count VI) (ECF No. 20).

         On January 29, 2018, the Court appointed attorney Craig A. Daly to represent Brown. Daly quickly filed a request for discovery, (ECF No. 13), and successfully moved the Court to appoint various professionals to aid in Brown's defense. (ECF No. 15 and 18).

         On May 30, 2018, Daly filed a motion to suppress, arguing that Brown's traffic stop and the seizure of his phone were invalid, and that Brown did not voluntarily waive his Miranda rights or consent to a search of his phone. (ECF No. 22). On July 18, 2018, the Court held a two-day evidentiary hearing on the motion to suppress. On the first day, Brown testified on his own behalf, and City of Westland police officer Adam Tardif testified for the Government. Daly vigorously cross examined Tardif. (ECF No. 45, PageID 282-293, 296-298). The Court ultimately denied the motion to suppress. (ECF No. 51).

         After denial of the motion to suppress, Daly continued to successfully move the Court for resources and discovery to aid Brown's defense. (ECF Nos. 65, 66, 71, 77). At the final pre-trial conference, the Government stated that it and Daly had negotiated two plea agreements to that point. Brown affirmed his knowledge and rejection of these offers, on the record. The Court set trial for August 20, 2019.

         In advance of trial, Daly filed four motions in limine on Brown's behalf. (ECF No. 80, 81, 82, 103). He also opposed the Government's two motions in lime. (ECF No. 95, 96). The Court accepted some of Daly's arguments when ruling on these motions. (ECF No. 122).

         As trial approached, Daly continued to successfully move the Court for resources to aid in Brown's defense, including expert appointments and writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum for defense witnesses. (ECF No. 109, 110). Daly also negotiated another plea offer from the Government, which Brown rejected, on the record, on August 8, 2019.

         On August 6, 2019 - twenty months after Daly began representing Brown, and two weeks before trial is set to begin - Brown filed a pro se motion to remove Daly as his attorney. (ECF No. 124). Brown contends that there has a been a “breakdown in communication, bona-fide conflict of interest, and irreconcilable differences.” Brown states that Daly “did not follow my request as it relates to ignoring my request for input into my defense and not pursuing exculpatory ‘Brady' materials from the government in a timely fashion in order to defend properly.” Brown “believes that [his] attorney has blatantly misrepresented case facts about investigating certain very critical issues within my defense to me.” Brown has also “repeatedly insisted that Mr. Daly obtain our own specialists to analyze medical data and historical phone data.” Brown also informed the Court that he would be “filing a complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission.” (ECF No. 123, PageID 945).

         On August 8, 2019, the Court held an extensive hearing on Brown's motion for a new attorney. Brown testified extensively at this hearing. The Court also heard from Daly and the Government. At this hearing, it became clear that Brown's main concerns were (1) his perception that Daly had not sought Brady material aggressively enough, (2) that a disagreement regarding the third plea offer had devolved into a conflict of interest, and (3) that he did not have enough time to put on a sufficient defense. Brown also informed the Court that he had not, in fact, filed a complaint against Daly with the Attorney Grievance Commission.

         At the end of the hearing, the Court asked Brown if he wanted Daly to withdraw. Brown answered “No.” Brown then requested an adjournment of the trial date.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Motion for New Counsel

         The disposition of a criminal defendant's motion for a new attorney is left to the Court's discretion. See United States v. Price, 761 Fed.App'x 568, 572 (6th Cir. 2019) (“We review the denial of these motions for abuse of discretion.”). On appeal, the Sixth Circuit will consider: “ (1) the timeliness of the motion, (2) the adequacy of the [district] court's inquiry into the matter, (3) the extent of the conflict between the attorney and client and whether it was so great that it resulted in a total lack of communication preventing an adequate defense, and (4) the balancing of these factors with the public's interest in the prompt and efficient administration of justice.” Id. (quoting United States v. Mack, 258 F.3d 548, 555-56 (6th Cir. 2001)). “[W]hen the granting of the defendant's request would almost certainly necessitate a last-minute continuance, the trial judge's actions are entitled to extraordinary deference.” United States v. Vasquez, 560 F.3d 461, 467 (6th Cir. 2009) (alteration in original) (citation omitted).

         Timing: This motion comes fourteen days before trial, which supports its denial. See United States v. Chambers, 441 F.3d 438, 447 (6th Cir. 2006) (finding that the timing factor did not support a claim that the district court abused its discretion when the defendant's request came approximately one and a half months before trial); United States v. Watson, 620 Fed.Appx. 493, 501 (6th Cir. 2015) (same when nineteen days); United States v. Fonville, 422 Fed.Appx. 473, 480 (6th Cir. 2011) (same when twenty-two days). ...


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