Can I ask for a new public defender if I am not satisfied with my present attorney? 45 Answers as of June 27, 2011

I was charged with a felony and appointed a public defender. I go for the arraignment soon and would like to request a new public defender because I am very unhappy with my present attorney. Do I have the right to do that?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
You should first speak to the public defender appointed to your case to express your concerns. Be sure to be polite and courteous while also conveying your opinion to them and asking their opinion on having a new public defender assigned to your case. If you are unable to reach a consensus then you should consider writing a letter itemizing the specific issues you are having with your lawyer and provide copies both to the court and also your public defender. Be sure to avoid divulging any incriminating information in this letter as it will not be protected by attorney-client privilege. Alternatively, you can consider hiring private counsel to represent you in court.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 6/27/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Yes, you do have a right to request new council. Ultimately, your judge may or may not grant your request; however, you do have a right to at least request a substitution of council. Further, you also have a right to retain the council of your choice. Ultimately, though, the presiding judge has authority to determine whether a substitution of council will be allowed.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/23/2011
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
You will need a better reason than not liking him. If there is complete breakdown in communication between you and your attorney, you can ask the judge to appoint a new attorney for you. But again, you have nothing to say in who they appoint. That is why it is advisable to hire a private attorney if at all possible. While some public defenders are excellent attorneys, others are not. Same with private attorneys. But with a private attorney YOU get to select who you want to represent you. With a public defender, someone else decides and you have very little to say about it. If you would like to speak with me about your case you can reach me through the contact info below. There is not fee for a telephone consultation.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/23/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You can ask for a new public defender but you must have a good reason for wanting another one especially since you are at such an early stage of the case. it will be up to the judge whether to grant you another attorney or not.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/23/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
The Court determines who will represent you when you request a public defender you have no say in the matter. If you do not feel comfortable with your public defender you always have the right to hire an attorney of your own choosing.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/23/2011
    The Chastaine Law Office
    The Chastaine Law Office | Michael Chastaine
    You can make the request, but you don't have the right to pick your public defender. However, if you talk to your PD and request a change they might be willing to do so.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/23/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It is difficult to obtain a new court appointed counsel merely because you would prefer someone else. In what is called a Marsden hearing, which you can request of the court, you have to show specifically that he or she is not adequately representing you or that your communications have broken down irretrievably. And you have to be careful because if things get too heated at such a hearing you may be stuck with the same attorney after it is over.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    yes, if you have a valid conflict and not a petty excuse.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    You can ask the court to give you a new appointed attorney. The thing is the court doesn't have to grant your request. Some judges will only switch court appointed counsel in cases of actual conflicts of interest (for example, if the PDs office has previously represented a witness in your case). Other judges will tend to allow a person to request one change of counsel for "personality conflict" type reasons. You don't have the right to have a court-appointed lawyer of your choice or to have one you like or even agree with. If you want to feel more in control of the proceedings or have an attorney who you can call and get on the phone when you need to talk, I would suggest hiring a lawyer on your own.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Attorney at Law
    Attorney at Law | Steven C. Bullock
    You can ask; however, pursuant to case law, you are entitled to an attorney, but not the attorney of your choice unless you are able to retain your attorney. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Well the question is why you are dissatisfied. If he is not doing his job then that is one thing. if it is because you don't like what he is telling you then that is another. It is up to the judge if you get a new attorney or not at public expense. You can always raise some money and hire your own lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    It may be possible to get a court appointed attorney instead of your current public defender. Of course you have the option of hiring an attorney that you feel comfortable with.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    You do not have the right to simply change attorneys or to have the attorney of your choice appointed to represent you. However, if there is a breakdown in the attorney client relationship, then the Judge can consider a change. There is no guarantee. If you want to hire a different attorney, you are always free to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    You can ask, but dont count on it being approved unless you can show valid good cause. If you dont know what that is, you dont have it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    It is not an absolute right. The attitude you will get from the court is likely to be "beggars can't be choosers." You can request a new attorney but you will have to prove that there is some kind of issue of communication or poor performance. Unfortunately, the fact that the court-appointed lawyer is a jerk isn't enough to justify appointment of a new attorney. Your best bet would be to take your concerns to your current attorney. If your differences are irreconcilably, the court may grant your motion for new counsel. I would suggest that you write down your issues and confront the attorney. Save that list because you have to provide a valid reason for changing. Also, once you switch, you are stuck with the new lawyer whether you like it or not. Your only other option would be to hire a private attorney or see if you can qualify for the modest means program. Please feel free to contact me should you have any additional questions.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Many people are not happy with their attorney, especially busy public defenders who do not always take the time to fully explain matters, return calls, or make you feel confident that they care about you. If you pay an attorney $5,000 you can be sure he will take the time to talk to you and perhaps be more respectful, attentive, and friendly. You can always ask for another attorney, but you have to have a good reason before the judge will entertain such a request. An example of the type of issues that will cause a judge to appoint new counsel is if the attorney refuses to meet with a client, inform him of the charges and his options, return phone calls, provide a copy of the file, and make court appearances. If the lawyer is just not returning a few calls you should explain the issue and see if he will agree to be more diligent in the future, but if he seems like he does not understand the law or is not able to properly answer your questions due to his inexperience then you may consider asking for new counsel. Your lawyer may not be experienced if he does not have at least 10 years of criminal law experience. Discuss his credentials, experience, and attitude with him before you change horses in the middle of a stream. Remember,young public defenders and first year interns in the emergency room are learning how to do their job with your life at stake, you get what you pay for.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    You do not have rights to request a particular attorney. If the court had appointed an attorney for you, the way to replace him would be to hire an attorney of your choice. The court would only replace the attorney if there was a conflict of interest, but then you would still not get to choose the attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    You can ask. Dos not mean you get a new attorney. For that to happen, you would have to show that the attorney did something s/he was not supposed to have done or did not do something s/he was supposed to have done. Something that was less than that which a competent attorney would do. Mere disagreement is not enough.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. You have the right to ask for a new lawyer. But, the judge does not have to grant your request.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    When the court appoints the Public Defender, they appoint the entire office, not just one attorney. It's up to the public defender's office to assign an attorney. They can decide to change attorneys internally if you request, but may not. If there is something about how your attorney is handling things and your relationship has broken down so substantially that you cannot work together, you can seek to have a Marsden hearing to request another attorney be appointed. You won't get another public defender, but either a conflict attorney or another one appointed by the court. This is not something that is typically granted. I'd suggest finding time to talk face to face with your current attorney before doing anything else. Voice your concerns and see what they say.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    You can ask for another one but it is up to the judge to decide if he/she will grant you another one....I recommend looking into hiring a private attorney....I very often hear of clients coming to me that say how they have been dissatisfied with their public defender for various reasons and are so grateful for coming to me since they never realized how affordable and inexpensive a private attorney costs.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You can ask but they do not have to grant the request - you have the right to adequate counsel, not perfect counsel. If you want a lawyer of your choosing you need to retain your own lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    You can ask, it really depends on reason- ie. no contact or personality clash. If you have fired other pub defenders before. You can always hire your own private lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You cannot pick your public defender. If you want to choose your attorney you will have to hire one.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    No. You can hire whoever you want, but if you want a free lawyer from the state, you have to take whoever they assign to your case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    Not the right, but you should consult the public defender's office to see what their policies bout changing attorneys are.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Allan & Summary
    Allan & Summary | Justin Summary
    You have a right to request a new one but the judge does not have to give you one. You are entitled to have an attorney...but not one of your choosing.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    The court may give you another public defender, but it will have to be for a very good reason. Being unhappy with your attorney is not enough. You must tell the court that you cannot work with the attorney ( no communication, attorney does not listen to you, the attorney is not properly defending your interests, etc.)
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    You can ask, but the judge is not required to give you another appointed attorney just because you don't like the one you have.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    You can hire a private lawyer to replace your public defender but you can't demand a different public defender.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    You may ask if you have a bona fide reason for doing so, however, the court does not have to appoint another attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    Generally no. In California, you do have a right to make a motion if there is an extreme conflict with the attorney, but otherwise, the Public Defender's office can assign anyone they choose to your case. Just because you have the right make the motion to the court does not mean that the court will agree with you. In California it is called a Marsden motion.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Lisa Mulligan Law Offices, LLC
    Lisa Mulligan Law Offices, LLC | Lisa Mulligan
    I'm sorry to hear that you're having that problem. You should talk to your public defender about a motion for new counsel so he or she can set one either to be addressed prior to arraignment or on a separate calendar depending on local practice. The judge will be asking whether or not there has been a breakdown if communication, so be prepared to address that issue. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Yes, you have the right to ask, but the judge doesn't have to give you one. The better and more specific your reasons, and the less the resulting delay (so the longer before your trial is scheduled) the more likely you'll get new counsel appointed.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    Not exactly. You don't have a right to a new PD just because you don't like the current one. Lots of people do not like their attorneys because their attorneys are telling them things they don't want to hear, so that is not persuasive to a judge. However, if the situation with your PD has escalated to the point that you have no faith that they will work to defend you, then you may be bordering on ineffective assistance of counsel. If you truly feel that way, you can write the judge a letter. However, sometimes that only makes things worse. Ask around about your specific judge and your specific PD office.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    No. When a public defender is appointed, it is that office that undertakes representation. If you discharge your public defender, you discharge that office as a whole.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Bird & Van Dyke, Inc.
    Bird & Van Dyke, Inc. | Mary Ann Bird
    If you feel that your court appointed attorney is not doing their job, you may request a Marsden hearing. If the Court grants your Marsden motion, you will be appointed a new court appointed attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    At least in Harris County, Texas, unless the lawyer asks to be let off of a case (and not even always then), the judge will not appoint a different lawyer to represent you. Because you are indigent, you are entitled to a qualified court appointed lawyer - but not the lawyer of your choosing. If you want a different lawyer, then you will have to hire a lawyer to replace your appointed lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Tell the PD you wish to conduct a "Marsden" motion. The problem is, the Judge will almost always deny such a motion, because if granted, the motion becomes a part of the PD's permanent record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    No, you can fire them, but are not guaranteed a replacement. You are best served to hire your own attorney who will care about your case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    You can always ask, but you will probably not be successful. You can bring a Marsden motion which asserts that your attorney is incompetent or inadequate. To succeed with such a motion you need to show that either your attorney is inadequately representing you or that you both disagree so much the relationship is irretrievably broken down. The motions are seldom granted but if you ask the judge will clear the court room and hear you on it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    You can ask. The judge will ask you the reason. You should have a concise answer. Most judges will let you change once if done early. The best option is to retain counsel if you can.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You can always ask, but that doesn't mean that it is going to be granted. Judges want to be careful that a defendant is not merely "lawyer shopping" and granting requests for new attorneys on a whim. If the attorney is not living up to his ethical standards or is being incompetent in representing you, then the judge would be inclined to give you a new attorney. But simply because you may not get along well or there is a thing or two you just don't like about him, the court will probably not grant your request as long as he is providing you with competent representation. You can always hire a private attorney if you are able.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/21/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney