Appeal from the Order entered July 26, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, family Division, at No. 7700-84-10.
Laura Gardner Webster, Assistant Public Defender, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Wieand, Beck and Kelly, JJ.
[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 328]
At appellant's delinquency hearing, counsel for the juvenile advised the court that a conflict of interest prevented him from effectively cross-examining a prosecution witness. He orally moved to withdraw as counsel.
The issue before us is whether the trial court erred by insisting that counsel continue to represent appellant under these circumstances. We find that the trial court abused its discretion. We vacate judgment and remand for a new hearing.
This case concerns the legal rights of two juveniles, the appellant Lloyd Saladin, and the prosecution witness, Lewis Williams. On October 15, 1985, Saladin allegedly threatened to cut Williams with a broken bottle unless Williams handed over his jacket. Saladin was charged with Robbery, Theft, and Possession of an Instrument of Crime. Brad Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia was appointed counsel for Saladin, and an adjudicatory hearing was scheduled in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
On the morning of the hearing, Mr. Bridge informed the presiding judge that he had "a problem" with representing Saladin (N.T. 3/8/85 at 1).*fn1 He stated that in addition to representing Saladin, the Defender Association currently represented Williams in an unrelated criminal case that was
[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 329]
scheduled for trial the following day.*fn2 The judge expressed the view that Williams could simply waive any conflict of interest which resulted from this dual representation. The judge then called Williams' mother to the stand and asked her if she objected to the Public Defender's representation of her son. She said that she had no objection.
At the hearing, the Commonwealth called Williams as its sole witness. On direct examination, Williams testified that Saladin stole the coat. Mr. Bridge asked a few preliminary questions on cross, and then argued to the court as follows:
MR BRIDGE: Your Honor, based on an earlier problem that I have, that I know things about Mr. Williams --
THE COURT: He has no objection to you cross-examining about all his ...