United States v. Blackledge, No. 12-7419 (4th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Respondent, civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person, challenged the denial of the motions to extend and reopen the discovery period, motions to withdraw as counsel, and motions to appoint a second expert. The court concluded that, in proceedings that could result in the lifelong incarceration of respondent who has already served his full sentence, respondent was forced to be represented by an attorney asserting multiple conflicts of interest with whom he had not prepared for trial because of their inability to communicate. The district court abused its discretion in requiring counsel to continue representing respondent and the error was not harmless. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment as to the motions to withdraw and remanded for the district court to consider these motions after engaging in the appropriate inquiry regarding the extent of counsel's conflicts.