Generalized Complaints About Court Appointed Counsel's Trial Strategy or Lack of Communication Do Not Entitle a Defendant to a Nelson Hearing
In Morrison v. State, 818 So. 2d 432 (Fla.), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 957, 154 L. Ed. 2d 308, 123 S. Ct. 406 (2002), the Court explained that generalized complaints about court-appointed counsel's trial strategy or lack of contact or communication with the defendant do not constitute the kind of unequivocal request to discharge counsel necessary to trigger the requirements of a Nelson hearing
In Sexton v. State, 775 So. 2d 923 (Fla.2000), this Court addressed a similar issue where the defendant claimed that the trial court erred in failing to adequately address the defendant's request for new counsel, and said:
In the present case, it does not appear that [the defendant] made a formal allegation of incompetence entitling him to a Nelson hearing. . . . Because [the defendant] was merely noting his disagreement with his attorney's trial strategy and preparation and was not asserting a sufficient basis to support a contention that his attorney was incompetent, we find this point on appeal to be without merit.
Accordingly, in the instant case, Morrison did not make a formal allegation of incompetence entitling him to a Nelson hearing.
Although Morrison did make several requests to replace his counsel, the claims contained in the letters submitted to the trial court centered principally around Morrison's dissatisfaction with the amount of communication between him and counsel.
A lack of communication, however, is not a ground for an incompetency claim. See Watts, 593 So. 2d at 203; Parker, 570 So. 2d at 1053.
Morrison also expressed displeasure with counsel's refusal to provide copies of legal documents and efforts in contacting witnesses.
These complaints can best be described as general complaints about his attorney's trial preparation, witness development, and trial strategy. See Dunn, 730 So. 2d at 312.
As this Court repeatedly has stated, a trial court does not err in failing to conduct a Nelson inquiry where the defendant makes such general complaints and is not clearly alleging incompetence. See Davis, 703 So. 2d at 1058-59; Gudinas, 693 So. 2d at 962 n. 12; see also Dunn, 730 So. 2d at 311-12. Id. at 440-41.