Carlos Humberto Neill v. The State of Texas--Appeal from 186th Judicial District Court of Bexar County
Carlos Humberto NEILL,
The STATE of Texas,
From the 186th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2003-CR-1064
Honorable James Barlow, Judge Presiding
Opinion by: Alma L. L pez, Chief Justice
Sitting: Alma L. L pez, Chief Justice
Sarah B. Duncan, Justice
Phylis J. Speedlin, Justice
Delivered and Filed: July 7, 2004
Carlos Humberto Neill ("Neill") appeals his conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The sole issue raised on appeal is whether the trial court erred in denying Neill's motion to dismiss appointed trial counsel. We affirm the trial court's judgment.
The trial court has discretion to determine whether to grant a motion to dismiss appointed counsel. See King v. State, 29 S.W.3d 556, 566 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000). The right to counsel may not be manipulated so as to obstruct the judicial process or interfere with the administration of justice. Id. A trial court has no duty to search for counsel agreeable to the defendant. Id.
When a defendant voices a seemingly substantial complaint about counsel, the trial judge should make a thorough inquiry into the reasons for the defendant's dissatisfaction. Melendez v. Salinas, 895 S.W.2d 714, 715 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1994, orig. proceeding). Personality conflicts and disagreements concerning trial strategy, however, are typically not valid grounds for withdrawal. King, 29 S.W.3d at 566. A hearing on a motion to dismiss appointed counsel will not be required where one is not requested. Cain v. State, 976 S.W.2d 228, 236 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1998, no pet.). If the defendant files a motion to dismiss appointed counsel, he has the burden of proving that he is entitled to a change of counsel. Watson v. State, 95 S.W.3d 342, 344 (Tex. App.-- Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, pet. ref'd).
In his first motion to dismiss appointed counsel, Neill asserted that appointed counsel had failed to file the appropriate and requested pre-trial motions. (1) Because this complaint relates to a disagreement concerning trial strategy, the complaint is not a valid ground to replace trial counsel. (2) See King, 29 S.W.3d at 566. Accordingly, the motion did not raise a substantial complaint to warrant further inquiry.
In his second motion to dismiss, Neill requested new counsel contending that he communicates mostly in Spanish and desired counsel that was fluent in both languages. The record does not reflect that Neill requested a hearing on this motion. See Cain, 976 S.W.2d at 236 (hearing not required if not requested). Furthermore, the record reflects that Neill was communicating in English on the night of the offense, and, although an interpreter was available in the courtroom, Neill was questioned and testified at trial in English. Finally, the prosecutor informed the court that no interpreter was needed during Neill's first trial which resulted in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict on punishment.
Based on the foregoing, we cannot conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Neill's motion to dismiss appointed counsel. "The record reflects no bad faith, insincerity, or disloyalty toward [Neill] by his counsel." Martinez v. State, 640 S.W.2d 317, 320 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1982, pet. ref'd). "Further, the record reflects affirmatively that an able and vigorous defense was presented by [Neill's counsel]." Id. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Alma L. L pez, Chief Justice
DO NOT PUBLISH
1. After voir dire, Neill addressed the court regarding the substance of one of the motions he wanted to file challenging his indictment. The court instructed Neill that the indictment procedure followed by the State was proper.
2. Neill's motion also asserted that he lost faith in his appointed counsel. The only factual basis given for this lack of faith, however, is counsel's failure to file pre-trial motions. See King, 29 S.W.3d at 566 (personality conflicts and disagreements concerning trial strategy typically not valid grounds for withdrawal); Corona v. State, Nos. 04-02-00861-CR & 04-02-00862-CR, 2004 WL 56922, at *2 (Tex. App.--San Antonio Jan. 14, 2004, pet. filed) (overruling issue regarding trial court's failure to conduct inquiry into relationship between defendant and appointed counsel where defendant's motion merely alleged that he no longer trusted appointed counsel and that their relationship was irreparable and antagonistic) (not designated for publication).