What can I do if I feel my attorney is incompetent? 12 Answers as of February 29, 2012

I am in a high profile case that got a lot of negative attention. I feel like my case is not being fought for when there is evidence that benefits me that I discovered on my own and brought up to lawyer. My lawyer does not throw it out there, I feel like he is just taking whatever DA throws at me.

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Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Fire your attorney and hire another one.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/2/2011
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
It is your legal right to change lawyers at any stage in the proceeding, unless it is so late in the case that it would be disruptive to the court or the opposition. It you are charged with a crime and are unable to hire another lawyer, it is your right to be represented by the Public Defender's Office. You should check your retainer agreement to see if you have a right to recover some of the fee. It is also possible for you to contact the County Bar Association to complain.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/26/2010
Law Offices of Phil Hache
Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
One option is to hire another attorney to replace the attorney currently representing you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/25/2010
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
How did you choose that attorney? Did you have a referral? It is very hard to find to find a good attorney. Many people just select a lawyer based upon a mailing, or a glossy ad, believing that a large, color ad means that the attorney is successful. Many attorneys who earn very significant yearly incomes are terrible lawyers, or atleast,do nothing in most cases tominimize time investment and maximize profit. They are known as "dump trucks". You generally want to choose an attorneyin your area, who practices primarily in thecounty in which your case will be heard. You want an attorney who is experienced in that area of law and whose primary area of practice is the area of concern to you (in your case, Criminal Defense). Always avoid a lawyer who practicesseveral areas of law.Two advertised areas is about all you should see. No one is an expert in more than a couple of areas, but it is certainly not necessary that the lawyer only practice your area of law. I myself consistently achieve very positive results in both criminal defense and family law. You also want an attorney to handle the case personally, and do not want them tojust pay some anonymous attorney to make a 'special appearance' for a few bucks (so that they do not have to drive in from some other county from which you hired them, based upon a mailer you received in the mai). That attorney making the special appearance will have no interest in your case and no investment in the outcome. Lastly, will your attorney return your calls? Is the attorney responsive to your concerns and does he or she answer questions?

If you have an appointed attorney, either a Deputy Public Defender or a conflict panel attorney (a lesser percentage of whom are usually competent than in the Public Defender's Office, though there is a wide variation in talent, experience and skill among attorneys in both offices in any County), then you can request a Marsden Hearing, in which you tell the Court why you feel your attorney has either done something he or she should not have done, or not done something he or she should have done. If your motion is successful, you will be appointed a different attorney on the Conflict Panel.

If you hired a private attorney, you can fire the attorney at any time. You should request an accounting and ask for a return of any unused fees. If your case is fairly far along, you should not expect to see much of a refund. As a last resort, you can file a complaint with the State Bar, but unless your attorney has really fouled up, there will probably not be much result from that complaint, and I would think twice. On the other hand, if the attorney ripped you off, then by all means file a complaint. The other thing is that the Attorney is required to advise you that you have a right to arbitrate the fees within the County in which the attorney provided services to you. The State Bar would be interested to know that you were not advised of your right to arbitrate, should you and your prior attorney have a dispute regarding fees and a refund.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/25/2010
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If you hired the attorney you have the right at almost any time to hire another one. If the attorney is court appointed you can make a motion to the judge to have your attorney replaced called a Marsden motion after the name of a famous case. Pls be advised though that this is very difficult and you will have to have solid grounds for the judge to grant it. Many people with court appointed attorney feel because they have not hired the attorney that they are not getting the best representation. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are just plain wrong and need to work with their attorney more closely and give him or her the benefit of the doubt.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/24/2010
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Hire a new attorney if you are not happy with your current one. If you are complaining about a taxpayer paid Public Defender, hire a private attorney; thats how you get personal attention to your case. The PD has 20-40 cases on calendar each day. If serious about hiring private counsel, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/24/2010
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You can discharge your attorney and hire another.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/23/2010
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If he is a Public Defender tell the judge you want a new PD as he is not listening to you and properly investigating yourdefense. If a private lawyer, FIRE HIM.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/23/2010
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    I would suggest you contact a new attorney immediately - at least for a consult. Give me a call.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/23/2010
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf | Lawrence Wolf
    That is insane. You can fire your attorney anytime you want to. Just do it and call us immediately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/23/2010
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    You can always have a Marsden hearing. Tell the judge what you are saying here and they must give you a hearing to determine if your attorney is competent. In addition, you can always hire or fire private attorneys as you see fit if you have the ability.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/23/2010
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