Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jimenez-Antunez: Defendant can fire retained counsel without showing "good cause"

In U.S. v. Jimenez-Antunez, No. 15-10224 (April 25, 2016), the Court held that a defendant need not show “good cause” to dismiss his retained counsel and replace him with appointed counsel. The Court found that the district court erroneously denied defense counsel’s motion to withdraw as counsel based on its finding that the defendant had been “afforded effective counsel.” This was the wrong inquiry. The Court explained that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to “counsel of choice,” and this includes the right to hire “and fire” retained counsel. A motion to discharge retained counsel should be granted unless denial is compelled by purposes inherent in the fair, efficient, and orderly administration of justice. The Court vacated the judgment, and remanded the case because it could not determine whether the district court would have granted the motion to withdraw had it applied the correct standard.