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Name: U.S. v. Nguyen
Case #: 00-10272
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/28/2001
Subsequent History: None

Reversal was required where appellant was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. A private attorney represented to the court that appellant’s family had been attempting to retain him, but that he could not represent appellant because he did not speak Vietnamese. Appellant was not present for this meeting, and the court did not inquire further about it. Appellant also repeatedly stated to the court that he did not want the public defender representing him, that he wanted to retain different counsel, and that the public defender was not properly representing him. The court merely assured appellant that the Federal Defender provided good representation, and continued with the trial. The trial court improperly focused on the attorney’s competence and failed to consider the relationship between appellant and his attorney. The trial court also failed to adequately balance appellant’s Sixth Amendment rights against any inconvenience from granting a continuance to obtain substitute counsel. Therefore, reversal was required.