Criminal Court of the City of New York, Bronx County
Morgan, Esq. The Bronx Defenders.
Bradley Thompson Assistant District Attorney Office of the
Bronx District Attorney.
J. Kirschner, J.
October 17, 2016, defendant was charged with assault in the
second degree (PL § 120.05 , a class D felony);
assault in the third degree (PL § 120.00 , a
misdemeanor); menacing in the second degree (PL § 120.14
, a misdemeanor); criminal possession of a weapon in the
fourth degree (PL § 265.01 , a misdemeanor); menacing
(PL § 120.15, a misdemeanor); and harassment in the
second degree (PL § 240.26 , a violation).
People now move for defense counsel to be relieved on the
grounds that counsel previously had represented the
complaining witness in his criminal case, at the same time he
represented defendant in this case. The People contend that
this prior simultaneous representation presents a conflict of
opposes. Defense counsel maintains that no conflict exists
because the attorney from their organization who represents
defendant did not and cannot obtain any confidential
information about the complainant from their
organization's records and files on that case. Defense
counsel further asserts that they represented the complainant
only at arraignment, and when they learned of the dual
representation, they were relieved at the next court date.
review of the moving and opposing papers, oral arguments,
prior court proceedings, and papers on file with the court,
the People's motion is denied.
Background and Procedural History
October 16, 2016, at approximately 1:00 p.m. in front of 1137
Saint Lawrence Avenue in Bronx County, defendant allegedly
pushed Robert Smith (hereinafter "Smith") and hit
him in the back of the head with a wooden stick. As a result
of defendant's purported actions, Smith received two
staples in the back of his head. The police arrested
defendant and he was charged as stated.
October 17, 2016, defendant was arraigned on the charges.
Assigned counsel, The Bronx Defenders, by attorney Kinte
Morgan, represented defendant. Defendant entered a plea of
not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.
January 24, 2017, Smith, the complaining witness in
defendant's case, was arrested and charged with
assaulting his wife Indra Moreno on December 31, 2016, inside
1137 Saint Lawrence Avenue in Bronx County. Assigned counsel,
The Bronx Defenders, by attorney Malika Lubell-Doughtie,
represented Smith at arraignment. The matter was adjourned to
February 17, 2017.
February 16, 2017, defendant's case was scheduled before
this court. Before the parties appeared that day, the People
interviewed Smith. They learned about Smith's pending
criminal case and that The Bronx Defenders was representing
People reported this simultaneous representation by The Bronx
Defenders to the court and maintained that it was a conflict
of interest. They sought to have The Bronx Defenders relieved
on defendant's case and requested the opportunity to
submit written papers on the request.
Bronx Defenders, by attorney Karume James, opposed the
request to be relieved and reported that his organization