United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
ORDER AND OPINION
MARGARET B. SEYMOUR SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christiansen (“Defendant”) is the sole individual
named in a two-count Indictment filed on July 18, 2017. ECF
No.10. Count One charges that beginning from an unknown date,
but beginning at least in May of 2017, Defendant attempted to
use a telephone and a computer to knowingly attempt to
persuade, induce, and entice a minor to engage in sexual
activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b).
Id. at 1. Count Two charges that on or about June
24, 2017, and continuing until June 25, 2017, Defendant
knowingly transported a minor in interstate commerce with the
intent to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C.
2423(a). Id. at 2. Defendant pleaded guilty to
Counts One and Two of the Indictment on June 5, 2018. ECF No.
99. Defendant is currently in custody, and awaits sentencing
on December 13, 2018. ECF No. 117.
matter is before the court on two pro se motions filed by
Defendant on November 5, 2018, and November 26,
2018. ECF Nos. 118, 119. In Defendant's
first motion, Defendant moves to substitute counsel, arguing
that “[his] lawyer wanted and got a continuance w/o my
stamp” and “we had words he no longer wishes to
meet with me. . . .” ECF No. 118 at 2 (errors in
original). Defendant also asserts that his attorney is
“weak.” Id. at 3. In his second motion,
Defendant moves, among other things, for a bond hearing, and for
“a second chair or a second attorney. . . .” ECF
No. 119 at 1. Defendant provides no argument as to why he
should be placed on bond, nor does Defendant provide any
grounds for receiving a second attorney.
ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
criminal defendants the right to “have the Assistance
of Counsel for their defense.” U.S. Const. Amend. VI.
The Sixth Amendment does not guarantee that defendants may
have multiple attorneys appointed for them. Indigent
defendants are entitled to court-appointed counsel.
Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972). Despite
that guarantee, indigent defendants are not entitled to
counsel of their choosing. United States v.
Gonzales-Lopez, 548 U.S. 140, 153 (2006); see also
Miller v. Smith, 115 F.3d 1136, 1143 (4th Cir.
1997)(“However, unlike the right to counsel, the right
to counsel of choice is not absolute.”).
defendant moves to substitute counsel, courts are given wide
discretion in granting such a request. United States v.
Horton, 693 F.3d 463, 466-67 (4th Cir. 2012). In
evaluating whether a district court erred in denying a motion
to substitute counsel, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit considers the following factors: (1) the timeliness
of the motion; (2) the adequacy of the district court's
inquiry into the defendant's complaint about counsel; and
(3) whether the defendant and counsel experienced a total
lack of communication preventing an adequate defense.
United States v. Quintero- Acosta, 355 Fed.Appx.
685, 688 (4th Cir. 2009)(quoting United States v.
Reevey, 364 F.3d 151, 156-57 (4th Cir. 2004)). A poor
relationship between counsel and a defendant is not a ground
for substitution. Morris v. Slappy, 461 U.S. 1,
has a lengthy history of issues with his attorney. Defendant
first moved for new counsel on January 26, 2018, arguing that
his attorney was not “keeping [him] up to date or
informed.” ECF No. 49 at 1. That motion was denied by
Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett on January 30, 2018. ECF No.
52. Then, on May 29, 2018, Defendant moved to act as his own
co-counsel, arguing that his counsel failed to examine all
necessary evidence. ECF No. 93. That motion was denied on
June 4, 2018. ECF No. 95. With this history in mind, the
court turns to Defendant's current motion. Defendant
details mere disagreement with his attorney, and does not
provide any evidence to suggest that his attorney failed to
provide an adequate defense. It is clear that Defendant
simply has a poor relationship with his attorney. Defendant
does not show a total lack of communication. As such, the
court finds that Defendant's counsel should not be
substituted, especially at this very late stage in the
proceedings. Furthermore, the court finds that Defendant is
not entitled to a second court-appointed attorney.
to 18 U.S.C.A § 3143(a)(1):
[T]he judicial officer shall order that a person who has been
found guilty of an offense and who is awaiting imposition or
execution of sentence, other than a person for whom the
applicable guideline promulgated pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
994 does not recommend a term of imprisonment, be detained,
unless the judicial officer finds by clear and convincing
evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a
danger to the safety of any other person or the community if
released. . . .
burden of proving a lack of a flight risk or a lack of risk
of danger to the community lies with the defendant.
United States v. Thompson, No. 1:07-cr-00051, 2008
WL 4460204 at *1 (W.D. Va Oct. 2, 2008).
was originally ordered detained pending trial on August 4,
2017. ECF No. 32. Defendant has provided no evidence that
conditions have changed since that date. Specifically,
Defendant has not proven that he would not pose a danger to
the community, or that he is not a flight In fact, the very
offense to which Defendant pleaded guilty indicates that he
is a danger to the community and would flee the jurisdiction.