Molly Marias

Document Type

Case Summary

Publication Date


Case Synopsis

The Nevada Supreme Court considered whether a district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to substitute retained counsel violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. In evaluating a motion to substitute retained counsel, courts must consider whether (1) granting the motion would significantly prejudice the defendant, or (2) the motion was untimely and would result in an unreasonable disruption of the orderly processes of justice.

In this matter, the Court found that the district court abused its discretion and made a structural error when it denied the defendant’s motion to substitute retained counsel. The Court therefore reversed the district court’s judgment of conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. In its reasoning, the Court concluded (1) that the defendant’s motion was timely under the circumstances because the defendant filed the motion shortly after learning the full extent of his retained counsel’s inadequate preparation, and (2) the defendant’s right to retained counsel outweighed the potentially disruptive effects of a further trial continuance.