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Court sides with defense in right to counsel case

Gavel
Posted at 7:35 PM, Mar 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-06 15:07:54-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida appeals court has ruled that forcing a defendant to go to trial with a lawyer he doesn't want violated his constitutional rights.

A 1st District Court of Appeal panel in a 2-1 decision Wednesday reversed James Madison's armed robbery convictions in a Leon County case from 2009.

Madison had asked for a delay in his trial so he could hire a new lawyer. The judge denied the request. Madison was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years.

The court said the lower judge should have granted the delay even though the new attorney would have been Madison's fourth. They noted the previous attorneys did little work on his case.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a lawyer in a criminal case.