Johnson v. StateAnnotate this Case
Johnson, the defendant in this criminal case, wrote the trial court judge a few months prior to trial complaining that his public defender, who had a history of neglecting clients, had been neglecting his case. The judge forwarded the complaint to the public defender's office and took no further action. Johnson appealed, arguing that the judge's failure to inquire further into his complaint violated his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel. The court of appeals found that the trial court handled Johnson's complaint reasonably. The Supreme Court affirmed the defendant's conviction, but held that the trial court had a duty to receive assurances from the public defender's office that Johnson's complaint had been addressed. The trial court judge's failure, however, (1) did not violate Johnson's right to the effective assistance of counsel, and (2) did not prejudice the defendant because Johnson failed to renew his objection at trial and because defense counsel appeared at trial and subjected the state's case to meaningful adversarial testing.