1) United States v. Jimenez-Antunez:
This appeal presents a question of first impression in this Circuit: whether a criminal defendant must show good cause to dismiss retained counsel if the defendant intends to seek appointed counsel. Gabriel Jimenez-Antunez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Weeks before his sentencing hearing, Jimenez-Antunez sent a letter to his retained counsel expressing an intent to dismiss him. His retained counsel then moved to withdraw and stated that his client would request appointed counsel. The district court denied the motion on the ground that Jimenez-Antunez had been afforded effective assistance of counsel by his retained counsel. Because a criminal defendant need not show good cause to dismiss retained counsel, we vacate and remand for further proceedings.
2) Norris v. United States:
This appeal requires us to decide whether the district court erred by denying an evidentiary hearing for Harrison Norris’s motion to vacate, 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which alleged that his conviction violated the Due Process Clause because his trial judge was biased against him and mentally incompetent. Norris, a black man, was convicted of forcing women, many of whom were white, into prostitution. Judge Jack Camp presided over Norris’s trial and sentenced him to life in prison. We vacated that sentence as an impermissible general sentence. On remand, a different judge sentenced Norris to 35 years of imprisonment. Three years after Norris’s trial, Judge Camp was arrested for illegal possession of drugs and a firearm. The United States disclosed that Camp had bipolar disorder and had suffered a brain injury from a bicycling accident. The investigation also disclosed allegations of racial bias. One witness alleged that Camp wanted to give all black men who pimped white women the maximum penalty and that Camp specifically disliked Norris. Because Norris sufficiently alleged that Judge Camp was actually biased against him, we reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing.