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Lawyer’s remark to client not reason enough to postpone trial, CSA finds

Despite claims his public defender told him to “have fun in jail” prior to his trial for armed robbery, the Court of Special Appeals has rejected a Wicomico County man’s claim that a judge should have granted a postponement so he could get a new lawyer.

But retired Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr., writing for the court in an unreported opinion, suggested he and his fellow appellate jurists may have reached a different conclusion than the Wicomico County Circuit Court judge.

Malik Dajour Moore asked to discharge his panel attorney appointed by the Office of the Public Defender the morning of trial in August 2015 because he claimed the attorney didn’t care about his case and had made remarks, including “have fun in jail,” according the opinion, which quotes extensively from the record.

Though Harrell acknowledged that Moore’s argument was “not frivolous on its face,” he found the record from the trial court lacked context for the judge’s decision. The prosecutor informed the court the defense attorney had been in contact with his office and prepared for trial appropriately.

“The trial judge, although not required to articulate every step in his reasoning to reach his finding, was free to indulge mentally in a number of reasonable inferences (from the state of this record) that might have undergirded his decision to reject Moore’s request,” Harrell wrote for the unanimous, three-judge panel.

Moore did not publicly express his displeasure with his attorney until the morning of trial “when it could be inferred that a possible reason for this timing was perhaps to secure deferral of the day of reckoning,” according to Harrell, and did not provide specific facts about his history with the attorney that lead to his mistrust.

The appellate court concluded there was no evidence the trial judge abused his discretion, “even if we would have acted differently had any of us been the trial judge confronted with the same record.”

The case is Malik Dajour Moore v. State of Maryland, No. 2266 Sept. Term 2015.

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