QUESTION

Can a public defender be fired by the person he is defending?

Asked on Feb 08th, 2013 on Criminal Law - California
More details to this question:
A defendent can not afford an attorney so he was appointed a public defender. Unfortunately this public defender does not explain anything that is going on in the proceeding and he is not mentally stable like others it takes explaining and patience on the public defenders part and maybe some more explaining until he gets it. So can he ask for another public defender to replace this one?
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4 ANSWERS
Answered on Feb 11th, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Yes, you can request a private hearing in front of a judge and request another court appointed attorney. You must give your reasons, and the judge must agree with those reasons.

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Answered on Feb 10th, 2013 at 8:29 PM
Unlike firing a paid attorney, you need a reason to fire your public defender. The fact that you don't like him or do not feel (s)he is doing a good job for you may not be enough. A judge is more likely to permit you to change public defenders if your current lawyer is somehow violating your right to adequate representation. Some evidence of that could be: (1) Missing appointments or filing deadlines, (2) Not informing you about your case status or hearing dates, (3) Forcing you to enter a plea, or (4) Ignoring important evidence. To change your public defender, you generally need to write a letter to the judge in your case or contact the public defender's office, depending on the rules in your state. Make sure you keep good notes of what you believe to be the biggest problems with your attorney. There's a chance a judge will grant your request if you have good reason to change public defenders. But they're unlikely to grant a second request, so make sure you really do need a new lawyer. Before you file any paperwork, make sure that you talk to your current public defender. Sometimes the issue isn't that your attorney isn't doing the work, it's a communication problem. Tell your attorney about what is making you unhappy, and see if something can be done to change it.

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Answered on Feb 08th, 2013 at 3:34 PM
There is a process (called a "Marsden Motion") for replacing your public defender, but it's tough. The judge won't simply fire the PD because you don't like him or you think you can do better. You will have to demonstrate a conflict of interest or some unethical conduct that proves that your appointed PD is truly incompetent or somehow unable to effectively do his job. Remember, you generally get what you pay for (and the PD is free).

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Answered on Feb 08th, 2013 at 3:34 PM
The court will only fire a public defender if that attorney has failed to act effectively for his or her client. The problem may be that it can be hard for anyone to explain procedures due to his mental instability.

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