The Second Department reversed defendant’s convictions by guilty plea because defense counsel had a conflict of interest:
The defendant was charged under Indictment No. 13-00668 with murder in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The defendant was later charged under Indictment No. 14-00627 with assault in the second degree and assault in the third degree. Following a pretrial hearing on Indictment No. 13-00668, the defendant’s counsel (hereinafter the attorney), who represented the defendant on the charges under both Indictment Nos. 13-00668 and 14-00627, learned that he had a conflict of interest with the defendant, as the attorney’s law office also represented, on unrelated charges, the prosecution’s principal witness in the case under Indictment No. 13-00668. The witness was to testify that he saw the defendant shoot and kill the unarmed victim. The County Court granted the attorney’s motion to be relieved as defense counsel in the case under Indictment No. 13-00668. However, the attorney remained as the defendant’s counsel on the charges under Indictment No. 14-00627.
The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to certain charges on both indictments in exchange for a reduced sentence.
… The defendant was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel when the attorney, who had been relieved as the defendant’s counsel on Indictment No. 13-00668 because of a conflict of interest with the prosecution’s principal witness, made a plea offer with respect to that indictment . The defendant failed to receive representation that was conflict-free and singlemindedly devoted to his best interests as required by both the Constitution of the United States and the New York State Constitution … . People v Hill, 2019 NY Slip Op 03810, Second Dept 6-15-19