Colorado v. RaineyAnnotate this Case
Robert Rainey was charged with nine criminal counts related to domestic violence in July 2016. The trial court appointed a public defender as Rainey’s counsel and set trial for January 9, 2017. The night before trial, a storm damaged the courthouse, and the trial was reset to the following day. The State was granted a number of continuances Rainey’s objection because witnesses were unavailable. Trial was ultimately continued to March 6, 2017—the day before the expiration of the speedy-trial deadline. The public defender confirmed that the date would work for trial and agreed to appear for the pretrial readiness conference set for March 3. At the conference, defense counsel raised for the first time that he would not in fact be available on March 6 for trial because of pre-existing vacation plans. Counsel's request for a continuance was denied, with the trial court observing that Rainey’s case was factually simple, and counsel would not need a substantial amount of time to prepare. Counsel conceded that he could not think of any reason why another public defender could not adequately prepare for the trial over the weekend. Trial took place on March 6 after Rainey’s two new attorneys announced that they were ready to proceed. The jury convicted Rainey on two of the nine counts—second degree kidnapping and criminal mischief—with a further finding that both crimes constituted acts of domestic violence. Rainey appealed his convictions, arguing the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to continued representation of appointed counsel when it denied his request for a continuance and forced him to proceed with the public defenders who had a weekend to prepare his case. The Colorado Supreme Court determined a defendant did not have a right to continued representation by a particular appointed lawyer: the right to continued representation by a particular attorney flows from the right to choose that attorney, which does not apply when counsel is appointed. "Still, if a defendant represented by an appointed attorney can show that denying a continuance and replacing that appointed attorney would prejudice their case, due process requires that the defendant be given a continuance so the attorney can continue the representation."