If I am not happy with the work of my public defender in California, can I get a new one? 11 Answers as of May 23, 2011

If my public defender does not do his job in court, can I fire him and ask for a new defender to take his place? I have been charged with domestic violence, and I do not think my defender is doing his job correctly. How do I replace him correctly?

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Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
Your choices are limited. You can try to hire an attorney or ask for a hearing with the judge called a Marsden hearing to obtain new court appointed counsel. The latter is very difficult in that you have to prove that your attorney has done virtually nothing on your case. Judges don't like to grant such motions.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/23/2011
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
No, you do not get to pick and choose your Deputy Public Defender. You can make a Marsden Motion, saying that there is either something your attorney did not do that he or she should have done, or something that your attorney did that he or she should not have done, in an attempt to get the Public Defender's Office relieved. Then, either the Alternate Public Defender's Office or the 'Conflict Panel' (whatever they are called in your jurisdiction) would be appointed. Your only other options would be to hire a private Attorney, or to proceed In Propria Persona (Faretta Motion), and represent yourself.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/19/2011
Wise Law Group
Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
You are not entitled to demand that another appointed attorney be appointed to your case in most instances. The Courts have recognized a procedure wherein you may request another attorney, which is commonly referred to as a Marsden motion wherein you ask the Court for another attorney because the current attorney is not working diligently enough on your matter.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
You can apply to the PD office, or apply to the judge, if you can show good cause. FYI: Just because he does not hold your hand and give you unlimited personal attention does not mean he is not doing his job. Private attorneys get paid to do those things, PDs do not. They usually have 20+ cases on calendar every day. Private attorneys have ONE.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Tomas M. Flores, Esq.
Tomas M. Flores, Esq. | Tomas M. Flores
With all due respect, your public defender is a member of the most prestigious bar association in the country. I can only assume that you have not yet passed the California bar. Perhaps you should take his or her advice based on their experience and training?

If you want to hire a private attorney, you can dismiss your public defender - but you should have at least $5,000 in your had before you do.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    No, you are getting a free attorney. You cannot pick and choose what free attorney you are going to get. If there is a real reason that your attorney is not performing the work they should you can have a Marsden Hearing in from of the judge. Do not expect to get a new attorney. If you want another one look into hiring a private attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You can tell the PD that you would like to "Marsden" him/her. A Marsden Hearing must be conducted before the Judge will grant your request to replace the assigned PD. But it is important to note that Judges rarely if ever grant Marsden motions, as it reflects poorly on the PD and may become a permanent part of the lawyer's record. Consider hiring a private attorney to sub into your case instead.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    You can tell the judge you feel he is not representing you in a professional way (would be good if you can give examples) tho judges are reluctant to trade Public Defenders. You might talk to your PD first, tell him you are unhappy with his services and ask him to get you someone else from his office. He might do it to avoid having you embarrassing him in court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
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