What are my rights if I feel that my current attorney has not represented me fairly? 46 Answers as of December 30, 2011

My current attorney has not represented me fairly. He has not given me copies of court agreement to run cases concurrent. He is not returning my calls. I am due to return to jail on soon and I do not feel he has done his job. What are my rights?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
That depends on whether you retained this attorney or whether he is a court appointed one. If retained you can simply fire him and hire someone else. If court appointed you need to ask the judge to give you another attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/30/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
You can appeal any plea or sentence, generally, and/or request a new lawyer. If you were sentenced, you should have been given an appellate rights form. If the court agrees to a substitution, they may allow you to get a new attorney. If the case is over, you can always get a new attorney. However, any substitution requires court approval.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/28/2011
Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
You can get copies of your court documents from the clerk's office. That is not an obligation of your lawyer. If your case has already been disposed except for you turning yourself in, then the representation has essentially ended.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/19/2011
Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
You may contact the Attorney Grievance Commission in Crownsville, MD. You can get the number from directory assistance.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 12/14/2011
The Law Office of Cindy Barton
The Law Office of Cindy Barton | Cindy Barton
If your attorney is retained by you, you have the right to fire him or her and get a new attorney. If the attorney is appointed by the court, you have the right to tell the court you are dissatisfied and to see if the court will appoint new counsel. You do not have the right to choose your attorney if that attorney is appointed and paid for by the county.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 12/13/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    People ask me this question a lot. I have no way of knowing if your attorney is doing a bad job. The fact hat you do not hear from him/her regularly is not the sign of a bad attorney. Perhaps he or she has nothing new to report and is trying to keep your legal fees manageable. If you sincerely feel your attorney is not adequately representing you, then file a motion with the criminal court - before the judge who is hearing your case, and request a new attorney. It is up to the judge.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine | Jerry Lee Wallentine Jr.
    Fire your attorney if you are dissatisfied with his legal representation. The judge might not automatically allow your lawyer to withdraw. However, the judge likely will allow the withdrawal, especially if you have hired new counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    There are a couple of things you can do. While a malpractice suit may not have very much chance of success, you can file a complaint with the State Bar if you like.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    You may wish to review the court files for your cases at the Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office. There may be signed court orders indicating if your sentences are imposed concurrently (as you state) or consecutively (in which case each sentence is added together.) Your judge probably said when he sentenced you if they are consecutive or concurrent. The State's Attorney may have a record. The court reporter may have typed what the judge said. If the judge sentenced you, then your rights are limited. There are ways to file a new motion if something was done incorrectly. You need to hire an attorney for further comment.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Consider having this attorney replaced. (If court appointed, by writing a letter to the judge on the case detailing the credible and persuasive reasons as to why this lawyer should be replaced.)
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    You do not mention whether your attorney is retained or appointed. If you hired him you can replace him by hiring another one. If he is appointed, there is a procedure called a Marsden hearing after a famous case. At such a hearing you can present evidence that your attorney has not been diligent in doing what is necessary to represent you and prepare the case or your communication with your attorney has irreparably broken down. It is very difficult to convince a judge to change court appointed attorneys, first, because most defendants cannot articulate an adequate showing in this regard, and, second, because so many of such motions are made against often competent attorneys who simply have not taken the time to explain what they have been doing on the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Aaron Black Law
    Aaron Black Law | Aaron Black
    If you hired your attorney you have every right to fire him and hire a new lawyer. If your lawyer is a public defender things are a little more difficult. You do not have a right to pick and chose a public defender. However, you can make a phone call to his/her supervisor and you can file a motion with the court outlining the specific grievances and why you should be appointed a new lawyer. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Orent Law Offices, PLC
    Orent Law Offices, PLC | Craig Orent
    The answer to your question is that it depends. If your attorney is privately retained, then you have the right to seek new counsel (assuming that works out for you financially etc.). If your attorney is a public defender, then you would need to notify your attorney that you want him/her to notify the court that you want new counsel; or you can make the request directly to the court. Keep in mind though when it comes to court appointed lawyers/public defenders, clients do not get to choose who their attorney is. As a result, the court would need to conclude that you and your attorney have a conflict of some sort that warrants new counsel being appointed; the court's decision will be influenced as well by what point your case is at. For example, if you are about to start trial, the court would be less likely to give you new counsel (even with private counsel). My suggestion is that you leave a polite message for your attorney that you want to talk to him/her and that if you do not hear back, you intend to seek new counsel or that you will contact his/her supervisor, if your represented by the public defender. The other option, more drastic and one that I would not recommend unless the attorney is completely ignoring you and completely not doing his/her job as opposed to there merely being a difference of opinion, is that you can contact the State Bar. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    Send your attorney a written demand for documents and indicate your displeasure with his not returning calls. You may also consider hiring another attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    Get another attorney. Nothing requires that you keep the same attorney you hired. If its the public defender, than its a bit more detailed a process to request a new one. There is really no set standard of things an attorney must do, but those should have been considerations you took into account when hiring. Or at least, things that should have been asked about.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    You can fire him and hire a new one. Or, if he is assigned you can ask the judge to replace him.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/13/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    If he is privately retained, you can fire him and hire a new lawyer. If he is court-appointed, you can make a motion to the judge for replacement counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Attorney at Law | Ruchee Patel
    If you have already pled guilty to an offense, then you probably no longer have current representation. Copies of your plea paperwork will be in the court jacket in the clerk's office.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Offices of Steven R. Hunter | Steven Hunter
    If you are paying your current attorney and are unhappy with his representation, you can hire someone else and have them file a Motion to Substitute as counsel.The Sixth Amendment guarantees counsel of one's choice. However, if youhave an appointed attorney, such as a public defender, you do not get to choose the individual who represents you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP | M. Jason Rhoades
    You can always fire your current attorney and hire a new one. As far as getting court records, you are entitled to them and can go to the clerk of court where your case is and ask for copies of whatever you need.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    For starters, you assume the attorney is doing something wrong. If you are basing that conclusion on what other people in jail are saying, forget about it. If I had a dollar for every piece of half-baked bad advice jail inmates give each other I would have a secretary answering these questions while I fished. The attorney should have furnished you with a copy of the prosecutor's plea offer and your guilty plea form. The attorney is not allowed to give you a copy of the police report. If you have issues with this attorney, you have two choices. You can complain to the attorney's supervisor or you can file a bar complaint. You could also complain to the judge if that will make you feel better but that's it. You're not going to make a fortune suing the lawyer and there really is no remedy other than I have mentioned.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy | David Leibowitz
    I would consider writing to him setting forth your concerns. If he still doesn't contact you, advise the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    You can hire a new attorney to try to withdraw your guilty plea and re-negotiate the deal. That's not always a good idea, though. Hard to say without a lot more info.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    If you hired him, you can fire him. If he is a public defender or court appointed attorney, you can make a "Marsden" motion. They are rarely granted because you cannot choose who your public defender is. Marsden motions are made if you have evidence that the attorney is doing things that hurt your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Well you can always fire your attorney and hire a new one. If you have a free attorney you will have to pay for a private attorney to take on your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
    He is appointed or retained If appointed you are probably stuck unless you want to show the court the attorney was ineffective> If he is retained, fire him and get a new lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    You can speak with him, find a new attorney, file a complaint with the court, or file a complaint with the bar association. Before you complain about inadequate representation, make sure that it was not your action or inactions that led to the result of the case, rather than the attorney. Some attorneys do not do a good job, but more often it is the client who did not participate fully, was not completely honest, did not pay bills on time or in some other way made representation difficult.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    You have the right to to an attorney. He or she must communicate with you. I have had this issue in my own practice. sometimes it is difficult to get in touch with your attorney. What I tell my clients to do, is call my office and make an appointment to see me. You can't just walk into your doctor's office and demand service. You have to make an appointment, and keep the appointment. Try making an appointment. If that doesn't work, you can fire your attorney, unless it is a public defender. If you have a public defender, and you are not in jail, make an appointment. If they won't let you make an appointment, then write his supervisor or the main office of the state.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If you hired him, fire him. if he is a public defender there isn't much you can do.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Carter Boyle LLC | Michael Carter
    Generally a client may terminate the Agreement, with or without cause, at any time by notifying the lawyer in writing or in writing. You have to understand that you may be responsible for payment of all fees incurred to the point of receipt of such notification. Most law firms want the client to be satisfied with the services performed. To promote full and open communication, they ask that you agree to let them know in writing immediately of any concerns you may have about the way the firm is handling your case. This is a much more effective than hearing from you at a later time when it may not be possible to take meaningful corrective steps. The key, for the client, is that you are always allowed to fire your attorney. Just look at your fee agreement to understand the terms and remember if you are not satisfied, talk to the attorney personally; if that does not work find a new attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Shamberg Wolf Mc Dermott Depue | Alfred Corey
    I suggest you contact your attorney again and try and speak to him. If he does not return your call, you will need to bring your case to the attention of the Court or consider seeking a different attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle
    Leone, Throwe, Teller, & Nagle | Adam J. Teller
    Your attorney has a duty to communicate with you and keep you informed, just as you should keep him informed about the facts of your case and about any questions and concerns you may have. I strongly recommend that you first make an effort to make an appointment with the attorney by asking his staff (or him via voicemail, letter, or email) for specific times when he would be available to receive your call or visit. A letter or email stating your concerns and difficulty reaching the attorney may be effective in getting a response. If the attorney has a supervisor (for example if he is a public defender, special public defender, or an associate in a law firm) you can also try to reach the supervisor for answers to your questions. If you are still have not received a response after reasonable efforts to reach the attorney, then you can either: consult a new attorney for a second opinion and possibly taking over your case; make the communication problems known to the court (without revealing any other information about your case) and ask for time to obtain a new attorney (or, if you qualify, appointment of a public defender); or you can make a complaint to the grievance authorities about your attorney. However, none of these options will necessarily result in a better outcome in your case. Also, making a grievance complaint about your attorney would be likely to damage your working relationship, but does not automatically require the court to permit you time to get a new attorney or to appoint a new attorney to replace him. Therefore, I recommend that you choose the second opinion option before taking any of the other actions.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    If you have a retained attorney you can always hire another one. I suspect you have a public defender. They often do not return calls but that does not mean they are doing anything wrong. I do not know the details of your case and so I cannot tell you if he is doing what is necessary. Lawyers explain the plea to you but are not required to give you a copy of every document, especially if you are incarcerated. Do not jump to conclusions. If you want a copy just write him a letter and request a copy. Do not complain about a lawyer who is working for free and do not keep an attorney you are paying unless he returns your calls.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If you feel that your attorney has/is not handling your case property your options depend on where your case is in the legal system. If it is in the stage before you go to trial then you can fire your attorney and if hire a new one. If you have an appointed attorney you can hire an attorney to replace your court appointed attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney you can bring a motion before the court to dismiss your court appointed attorney and appoint a new one. If your case has gone beyond the early stages and you are sentenced you can have an appellate attorney file an appeal on your case siting attorney incompetence.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    You can fire him and hire someone who will give you better representation. You can ask the judge for a new attorney if he is court appointed. Ultimately you can file a complaint with the disciplinary board.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You can fire him at any time. Or if he is court appointed, tell the Judge you want a new attorney and why.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Contact the state bar and/or the Judge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    That depends on whether tour attorney was appointed or retained by you. If he was hired by you, you can discharge him and hire another attorney. If he was appointed by the court, such as a public defender, you have to ask the court to replace him in a procedure called a "Marsden hearing." as I understand the situation, though, sentencing has already taken place and now you are going to report to jail. If so, the agreement is contained in the court's record of the plea and/or the judgment, on minute orders of the hearings. The court will make a reference to the the cases running concurrent. Of course, if there is a written agreement to this effect, and your calls are not being returned, write him a letter to which he has to respond, or set an appointment at his office to see him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    It is always possible to try to undo your guilty plea or conviction based on 'ineffective assistance of attorney' but it is very difficult, time consuming and expensive and may not ultimately end up helping. There may not be any paperwork in your lawyers possession that shows the cases are to run concurrently, but in the Court file there will be so go yourself to the court, get a copy of the sentencing order that shows the sentences are to run concurrently.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Meyer & Kiss, LLC | Daniel Kiss
    If you are unsatisfied with your attorney, you can fire him and replace him with another attorney. If your attorney is court-appointed, you can try to fire him, but it will be up to the judge to let him out of the case. There aren't many specifics in your question, but I encourage you to try and work things out with your lawyer before you fire him. Let him know specifically what is wrong and give him a chance to deliver. If you are still unhappy, than you can let the judge know that you tried to work it out. Keep in mind that starting all over again with a new lawyer isn't automatically a good thing.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    The Law Offices of Stephen L. Richards | Stephen L. Richards
    You have a right to: (1) discharge your current attorney, and (2) hire another attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    You an always fire him and pay for a different attorney. You may also request a marsdon motion to challenge whether he is providing effective assistance of counsel.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Summers and Schneider
    Summers and Schneider | Kimberly A. Summers
    You are always free to fire your attorney and retain new counsel at any time. Your new attorney can file a notice of appearance and relieve your current attorney from the case. Once this is done, your new attorney can request and receive a copy of your file for review. If you have court appointed counsel you should contact the court, either at the next appearance or through a letter, and advise the court that you wish to have new counsel appointed. Be very clear as to dates, times and issues with your current attorney but do not go into any specifics about the actual case (facts surrounding the case or any admissions or conversations you may have had with your attorney) so as not to waive the attorney client privilege.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You can raise the issue in court with the judge, contact the attorney's supervisor if he or she has one, or you can file a complaint with the Lawyer's Board of Professional Responsibility.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/12/2011
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    If your attorney has not properly represented you, you can file an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. However, these are rarely granted and your remedy might be to get a new trial. If you think the deal you have is okay, you might be careful what you ask for.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/12/2011
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