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State v. Reddy

Decided: November 5, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHARLES REDDY AND ROBERT REDDY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Lynch, Ackerman and Larner.

Per Curiam

[137 NJSuper Page 34] After a jury trial defendants were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. They assign several grounds of error.

Application for continuance in order to retain new counsel

Both defendants were represented by public defenders for a considerable period of time. This representation continued without objection and without application of any kind until March 15, 1974, the return date of a motion to suppress evidence. Then, for the first time, both defendants applied for a continuance of the suppression hearing in order to obtain private counsel. Significantly, there was no representation made as to the availability or retainer of any particular counsel or proof of present financial ability to secure one.

At the time of the application defendants knew that the date for trial had been set for April 1, just two weeks off, and yet no application had been made to the assignment judge for continuance of the trial.

The judge hearing the motion denied the request and proceeded with the suppression hearing, rendering his decision on March 18, 1974. His reasons on the record fully justify the exercise of his discretion in denying the application for adjournment.

Although an accused has the right to the assistance of counsel, this right is defined as a fair opportunity to secure and consult counsel of his own choice. Chandler v. Fretag , 348 U.S. 3, 75 S. Ct. 1, 99 L. Ed. 4 (1954); Powell v. Alabama , 287 U.S. 45, 53 S. Ct. 55, 77 L. Ed. 158 (1932). It is clear from examining the development of the meaning of this right that "there is no absolute right to a particular counsel." United States ex rel. Carey v. Rundle , 409 F.2d 1210, 1215 (3 Cir. 1969), cert. den. sub nom. Carey v. Rundle , 397 U.S. 946, 90 S. Ct. 964, 25 L. Ed. 2d 127 (1970).

In order to exercise the right to choose one's own particular counsel, reasonable diligence must be utilized. State v. Longo , 133 N.J.L. 301 (E. & A. 1945). Therefore, a failure to act expeditiously in obtaining counsel will

allow the trial judge the discretion to "do what is reasonably necessary to meet the situation." State v. Yormark , 117 N.J. Super. 315, 340 (App. Div. 1971), cert. den., Perwin v. New Jersey , 409 U.S. 862, 93 S. Ct. 151, 34 L. Ed. 2d 109 (1972).

In addition to the move for a continuance, Charles Reddy added another tactic in an effort to disrupt and delay the judicial process. He attempted to frustrate the trial judge's ruling by a lengthy diatribe and unruly behavior. After several warnings he was removed from the courtroom. Prior to being removed he was told that he would be allowed to return whenever he was willing to comport himself with courtroom decorum. The judge conducted this troublesome phase of the proceeding properly and in accordance with the guidelines set forth in Illinois v. Allen , 397 U.S. 337, 90 S. Ct. 1057, 25 L. Ed. 2d 353, reh. den., 398 U.S. 915, 90 S. Ct. 1684, 26 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1970). See also, State v. Spivey , 122 N.J. Super. 249 (App. Div. 1973), rev'd on other grounds 65 N.J. 21 (1974).

The trial judge's rulings in connection with defendants' applications for continuance of the suppression hearing comport with propriety within the ...


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