People v. Watson

After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and resisting arrest. Robert Fisher, an attorney employed by New York County Defender Services (NYCDS), was assigned to represent defendant. It was later revealed that a different attorney from NYCDS had represented another person, Toi Stephens, who was involved in the incident forming the basis of Defendant’s charges. Based on a potential conflict of interest, the court relieved Fisher as Defendant’s attorney and assigned a new attorney, who represented Defendant at trial. The Appellate Division reversed on the ground that the trial court had abused its discretion in relieving Fisher because Fisher did not represent Stephens, and the relationship between NYCDS and Stephens did not constitute a conflict. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion by relieving Defendant’s assigned counsel and appointing conflict-free counsel to represent him. View "People v. Watson" on Justia Law