The Fourth Department, reversing defendant’s conviction and ordering a new trial, determined that defendant’s complaints about his assigned counsel were sufficient to warrant further inquiry by the court:
… [D]efendant “articulated complaints about his assigned counsel that were sufficiently serious to trigger the court’s duty to engage in an inquiry regarding those complaints”… At a pretrial appearance, defendant requested that the court assign him new counsel because, among other things, defense counsel had failed to file discovery demands and omnibus motions. After defendant’s request, defense counsel erroneously stated, “[t]hose were filed already,” and the court stated, “I have them here. I’m holding them in my hand.” However, the People concede that, although certain discovery demands were served on the People, defense counsel never filed any omnibus motions.
Upon being told that omnibus motions had been filed, defendant informed the court that he had never received them. The court replied, “Well, that’s a different issue, okay? So you’ve got to get a copy of your paperwork, all right? What else?” The court never conducted an inquiry into defendant’s serious complaint that defense counsel failed to file any omnibus motions and, instead, proceeded under the mistaken belief that they had been filed. Although “[t]he court might well have found upon limited inquiry that defendant’s request was without genuine basis, . . . it could not so summarily dismiss th[at] request” based on a mistaken belief that omnibus motions had been filed … . Thus, we conclude that the court violated defendant’s right to counsel by failing to make a minimal inquiry concerning his serious complaint, and we therefore reverse the judgment and grant a new trial … . People v Edwards, 2019 NY Slip Op 04537, Fourth Dept 6-7-19