then you could deny it after I have spoken; I would appreciate that.
The Court: Go ahead. The whole courtroom is waiting for you.
Mr. O'Brien: There has been an inability to communicate with him. He has refused to see me. I cannot be effective in representing him. If I cannot speak to him I cannot advise him, for instance, whether to testify in his own behalf and also without communicating with him I cannot effectively cross-examine witnesses.
The Court: I understand all that and I am not going to let him force a change of lawyers. He has a right to have Counsel assigned. He has had Counsel assigned right from the onset. He wants to change now. I am not going to let him force a change of lawyers be (sic) refusing to communicate. Now, the next lawyer if I gave him one if he didn't like him he wouldn't talk to him and so on we go. I am not going to allow you to withdraw on the eve of trial. If Mr. Grippo doesn't want to talk to you, that is certainly going to aid the Prosecution in convicting him. If he makes it impossible for you to prepare a defense for him, that is his grave. Now, Mr. Grippo, what are you going to do here? And I want to hear an answer.
The Defendant: I have nothing to say, Your Honor.
The Court: All right. Application to proceed pro se is denied.
Mr. O'Brien: For the record, I would like to ask Mr. Grippo in open court, up to this point he has not seen fit to see me and my understanding
The Court: Well, sir, I cannot force him to see you.
Mr. O'Brien: I know that, Your Honor. I want to know right now if Mr. Grippo
The Court: You present yourself at the jail, Mr. O'Brien.
Mr. O'Brien: Every day?
The Court: When you ordinarily would in preparing for a trial which is to begin Monday. If he refuses to see you, so be it. That is to his disadvantage. Again, Mr. Grippo, I strongly suggest that you talk to your lawyer and help him prepare your case. All right. Motions to proceed pro se is denied.
June 6, 1983
Hon. Andrew G. Celli, presiding
Mr. O'Brien: The first matter I would like to place on the record, Judge, is to renew a motion to withdraw as counsel for the defendant. I don't know if the judge is familiar with any of the history of this case. Approximately three weeks ago the defendant wrote a letter to Justice Kennedy asking for assigned counsel. Justice Kennedy placed it on the calendar for May 23rd and Mr. Grippo failed to appear. Mr. Grippo again wrote a letter to Justice Kennedy to either go pro se and have counsel assigned and have me discharged as counsel. That was put on for June 3rd I believe, and that was also denied. I made a motion at that time as counsel because of the defendant's failure to communicate and cooperate with counsel to provide an effective defense to withdraw as counsel. Now, at that June 3rd appearance before Justice Kennedy he instructed me after he denied Mr. Grippo's motion to go pro se and have assigned counsel, on my motion to withdraw he denied that and instructed me to see Mr. Grippo again. I did so Friday and had a brief conversation with him ending with the defendant leaving the interview room after a fairly brief conversation. The basis of my motion would be as it was in front of Justice Kennedy. The only new event would be an attempt to speak to him at the jail. The basis of that motion would be that the defendant as of late has refused to communicate at all with me, but before that even failure to communicate and cooperate which I thought was necessary for an effective defense. So, that would be my motion to withdraw. That would be the first matter I bring to the Court's attention.
The Court: Any comments, Mr. Rowe?
Mr. Rowe: That that be denied. There is nothing new in that application that Justice Kennedy didn't have before him when he ruled. If there is anything with regard to that, we have a blatant attempt in my opinion to form chop (sic) here. The application at this time must be denied having been taken up as late as last week on that very basis.
The Court: Thank you very much. I have heard your motion. A determination has been made by Mr. Justice Kennedy of the Supreme Court in this matter. He reviewed it on two occasions. My understanding, Mr. O'Brien, is that you have represented this gentleman since the outset, and for the record you certainly are a competent defense counsel being a member of the Public Defender's staff and highly experienced in the field. The defendant is not entitled to select attorneys. He is entitled to an attorney if he is without funds, and from the Public Defender's Office he has an excellent one in my opinion. You will continue, sir.
June 6, 1983
Hon. Andrew G. Celli, presiding
The Court: Sit down, Mr. O'Brien. Your client wants to talk to you a couple minutes.
(There was a pause in the proceeding.)
Did you get a chance to talk to your lawyer, Mr. Grippo? Have you had a chance to talk to your lawyer?
The Defendant: Yes.
Mr. O'Brien: Your Honor, these are in the nature of motions to discharge me as counsel. I would like these put in the record.
The Court: Read them into the record. You want to place them in the record?
Mr. O'Brien: I am certainly not going to read them in the record. If Mr. Grippo wants to read them
The Court: If he wants to read them, go ahead.
The Defendant: Your Honor, due respect to the law and justice and everyone here present, at this time I would like to bring to the Court's attention once again that because of misrepresentation and breach of trust I am asking for another lawyer to represent the defendant myself in this case at bar. I will bring to the Court case law that is applicable to the defendant in the case at bar, People v. Romaselli. The trial court should not allow counsel assigned to representing the defendant after it became obvious that there is no client-attorney relationship. Your honor, in order not to make justice a mockery I am requesting new counsel. With respect to law and justice and my constitutional rights I make this plea.
The Court: Your plea is respectfully denied. The matter has been determined not only by this Court but by another judge before me. You have competent counsel and the matter has been determined. I will grant you an exception to my ruling, too, if I have erred. I wish the record to indicate that this motion has been already determined by Judge Kennedy. Anything else, sir?
The Defendant: No.
The Court: Fine. We will start at quarter to 2.
* * * * *
(The Court reconvened at 2:40 p.m., defendant present and by counsel.)
The Court: We now are involved in the matter of the People of the State of New York against Ronald J. Grippo. The People are represented here by Mr. Douglas Rowe, Assistant District Attorney of the County of Monroe. Mr. Stephen O'Brien an Assistant Public Defender is representing the defendant Ronald J. Grippo.
Mr. Grippo, I would like the record to indicate that I have received from you through the transport officer a letter, and he indicated to me that you did not wish to be present at this trial. Let me say this to you. It is to your benefit, sir, to be present at all stages of the proceedings and to cooperate and assist your attorney so that the end result will be to your benefit. The matter which you have pointed out in your letter we have decided already. If I were in your position I would stay and remain at the trial to see that the matter proceeded in accordance with the law and to cooperate with the attorney. However, if it is your wish to remove yourself and be absent during the trial of your own case, that of course will be your option. I asked the deputies to bring you here so I could address you personally. Do you understand me, sir?