from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (C.P.C. No.
O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Laura R. Swisher, for
Barnhart Law Office, LLC, and Robert B. Barnhart, for
1} Charles Oliver, defendant-appellant, appeals the
judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, in
which the court found him guilty of kidnapping with a firearm
specification, a violation of R.C. 2905.01 and a first-degree
felony, and felonious assault with a firearm specification, a
violation of R.C. 2903.11 and a second-degree felony.
2} The facts underlying the crimes in this case are
not relevant to the issues on appeal. Generally, on July 28,
2016, appellant was indicted on one count of kidnapping and
one count of felonious assault, each carrying a three-year
firearm specification. The victim was his ex-girlfriend
3} On August 1, 2016, appellant retained his first
attorney. On January 18, 2017, that attorney moved to
withdraw as counsel based on an accusation by the victim that
he had given her money not to testify against appellant. The
court granted the motion and appointed Robert Krapenc to
4} On February 13, 2017, the case was scheduled for
a jury trial. Appellant requested a continuance, asserting he
wanted to hire his own attorney. A conversation regarding
appellant's request ensued between appellant and the
trial judge, which we will detail in our discussion of
appellant's assignment of error. In the end, the trial
court denied appellant's request, believing appellant was
delaying his trial hoping that the victim, who was in jail at
that time, would be released by the next trial date and
become "lost" and unavailable to testify.
Subsequently, a jury convicted appellant of the charged
offenses, and the trial court sentenced appellant to a total
of 12 years in prison. Appellant appeals the judgment of the
trial court, asserting the following assignment of error:
TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A
CONTINUANCE TO SECURE HIS OWN COUNSEL.
5} Appellant argues in his sole assignment of error
the trial court erred when it denied his request for a
continuance in order to obtain trial counsel of his own
choosing. In general, "[t]he right to counsel of
one's choice is an essential element of the Sixth
Amendment right to have the assistance of counsel for
one's defense." State v. Frazier, 8th Dist.
No. 97178, 2012-Ohio-1198, ¶ 26, citing State v.
Keenan, 8th Dist. No. 89554, 2008-Ohio-807. This
includes the right, when a defendant has the ability to
retain his own attorney, to be represented by counsel of
choice. United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 548 U.S.
140, 144 (2006). However, the right to retained counsel of
choice "is not absolute, * * * and courts have 'wide
latitude in balancing the right to counsel of choice against
the needs of fairness and against the demands of its
calendar.' " Frazier at ¶ 26, quoting
Gonzalez-Lopez at 152. In this respect, a trial
court's "difficult responsibility of assembling
witnesses, lawyers and jurors for trial 'counsels against
continuances except for compelling reasons.' "
State v. Howard, 5th Dist. No. 2012CA00061,
2013-Ohio-2884, ¶ 40, quoting Morris v. Slappy,
461 U.S. 1, 11 (1983). Accordingly, "decisions relating
to the substitution of counsel are within the sound
discretion of the trial court." Frazier at
¶ 26, citing Wheat v. United States, 486 U.S.
153, 159 (1988).
6} "The grant or denial of a continuance is a
matter which is entrusted to the broad, sound discretion of
the trial judge. An appellate court must not reverse the
denial of a continuance unless there has been an abuse of
discretion." State v. Unger, 67 Ohio St.2d 65,
67 (1981). In assessing whether the trial court abused its
discretion in denying appellant's request for a
continuance, we consider: (1) the length of the delay
requested, (2) whether other continuances have been requested
and received, (3) the inconvenience to litigants, witnesses,
opposing counsel, and the court, (4) whether the requested
delay is for legitimate reasons or whether it is dilatory,
purposeful, or contrived, (5) whether appellant contributed
to the circumstance which gives rise to the request for a
continuance, and (6) other relevant factors, depending on the
unique facts of each case. Id. at 67-68.
7} The United States Supreme Court has stated
"[t]here are no mechanical tests for deciding when a
denial of a continuance is so arbitrary as to violate due
process. The answer must be found in the circumstances
present in every case, particularly in the reasons presented
to the trial judge ...