What can my friend do if her attorney is not helping her case? 34 Answers as of July 09, 2013

My friend has been in jail over a month and since then, his attorney has a heavy case load. She is just now getting to his case. He's seen her two times maybe and she won't return my calls either.

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You can change attorneys if dissatisfied.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/28/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
The attorney appointed is held to a standard of giving competent assistance. The level of assistance may not be what the client feels is appropriate, but what the court would expect. The attorney is not bound to consult with anyone other than the client.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 9/21/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
First, an attorney does not have to accept phone calls from anyone that is not his or her client. In fact, it is a breach of ethics to talk to you unless the lawyer has a strategic purpose for doing so (such as you are a witness or have first hand information). Your friend should not talk to you about the case either, your conversations with your friend are not privileged, the State can and does record jail phone calls, they also read mail in and out of the jail that is not addressed to or from a lawyer. Second, please speak to your congressman about this: Two jail visits is a courtesy. While your friend has a court appointed lawyer - I am assuming here - the courts do not pay the lawyers for the work done, the court only pays a minimum amount for services rendered that will not permit the lawyer to spend the time to check into the jail and visit a client more than one time unless the case goes to trial. A heavy case load is only half of the problem when the pay is discounted (deeply) the lawyer has to supplement with extra work. The State goes on the presumption that every defendant is guilty so the money should be restricted. In the end, innocent people plea guilty to get out of jail or at least be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 9/20/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
She may always hire new counsel. She should do so, however, in sufficient time for the new attorney to review the file and prepare for upcoming hearings.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/20/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
You don't say whether or not your friend's attorney is a public defender. If so, public defenders have huge case loads, which sometimes limits the amount of time they can devote to their cases. Another issue. is what your friend is being charged with and what her criminal history is. These factors may determine the amount of bail that is ordered by the court. If you friend can't post bail then she stays in jail until trial or a plea agreement. Another factor to consider is that attorneys are often working a case without the client necessarily knowing, and certainly without you necessarily knowing. As far as communicating with you, there may be no reason to do so. The attorney certainly is not going to necessarily talk to you about the case because it may impact confidentiality. Having said this, if your friend is not satisfied and does not believe her attorney is doing his/her job, your friend can always fire the attorney and get a new one.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/19/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | Melissa Hoffman
    Your friend will need to give his attorney permission to disclose information about his case to you, as his attorney is bound by rules of confidentiality that does not allow for the disclosure of any information regarding a client's case without consent. If your friend is dissatisfied with his attorney, he can always hire a new one.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of Sean Logue
    Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
    Your friend should write the attorney a formal letter addressing her concerns.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC | Jeffery A. Cojocar
    Find an other attorney I would suppose.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/9/2013
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Two visits to jail is not unreasonable at all. If she were not in jail how many times would she have been to his office? Probably not more than twice. A lawyer's responsibility is not to visit. It is to communicate when there are new things that require face to face communication. If he and she have mapped out a strategy there is no reason why he would be going to visit her to make her feel comfortable. That is not his role.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    I do not know the circumstances but if your friend has a public defender they do not return calls from anyone other than the client, and sometimes they don't have the time to even see the clients in jail or return their calls. That does not mean they are not doing a good job, it means that it you want a lawyer who is fully prepared, visits you, and gives you a copy of the file you should retain private counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney it is best to write to the lawyer and ask for a visit or a copy of the file. It often takes several months to resolve a case or get to trial and there may be hearing necessary before the trial which can take several more months. In Manhattan most people are in jail at least 9 months before the trial is held as the prosecutor will request many adjournments which will be granted. If you retain private counsel you have a better chance of getting out of jail pending trial unless it is a serious violent offense or the person has a bad record or has bench warrants on their record.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    I would rather have an attorney who is knowledgeable and a heavy case load as opposed to an attorney who has very little to do. Most good attorneys may have limited time to spend with each client but they know what the case is about and how to resolve it. If you are a friend of the person in jail, the attorney may not be quick to return your calls, and might not be able to discuss the case with you. The relationship between an attorney and their client is a confidential relationship where information is not shared with third persons. Do not fault the attorney for not discussing this case with you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Most attorneys cannot visit clients in custody on a regular basis. That does not mean the attorney is not working on his case. If he has been there for a month and the attorney has been there twice, that is probably reasonable. And the attorney is under no obligation to return your calls because you are not her client. As a court date draws closer, he may want to contact her if possible to check in if she doesn't come and see him again. Otherwise it is difficult to assess what the attorney's level of preparedness is.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Your friend if not satisfied with her lawyer should get a new lawyer. If it is a communication problem then she should talk to her lawyer and explain she needs more attention. If the lawyer responds then the problem is solved. If not she needs a new lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    Perhaps your friend and her family should look into getting another one.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    To be honest, visiting an inmate two times in a month sounds pretty diligent to me. If the lawyer was hired by your friend, then he can be fired also. If assigned by the court, your friend can try to have the lawyer replaced.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, before terminating an attorney's services, we recommend that you give that lawyer an opportunity to address your concerns. Try scheduling an appointment to meet with him or her. They may still do you a good job. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    If the attorney is retained, she could always fire the attorney and hire a new attorney. If the attorney is court appointed, the matter could be brought to the attention of the court. However, before your friend takes any action, she may want to meet with the attorney and discuss the issue.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    If your lawyer is too busy, your friend should consider hiring a new attorney. A criminal lawyer owes a duty to do everything within their power to to provide the best defense for their client. If that means turning down new cases to devote more time to the old ones, then it must be done.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    He can either continue to contact his attorney by whatever means possible or seek new representation.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Usually court-appointed attorneys do have heavy workloads. That doesn't mean that they aren't doing an adequate job however. There may not be a lot going on at this point in the case that would warrant a lot of visits. Your friend can address any concerns that he has with her. He can always petition the court to appoint him new counsel if he believes she is not doing an adequate job, but keep in mind that judges are reluctant to grant such requests absent strong evidence to suggest inadequate representation because we don't want defendants attorney shopping. He is always free to retain his own attorney if he wishes. Since you are not the client, the attorney doesn't owe you any duty so that may be why she is not calling you back. But she should be keeping your friend informed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    You have a right to the attorney of your choosing as long as you are paying the bill. If the attorney is not performing up to expectations, she can fire them at any time. If it is a public defender, your options are much more limited. Your friend can try to convince the judge that the lawyer is not doing their job properly but I have seen judges bend over backwards to protect the reputation of the public defenders so unless the conduct is egregious I doubt the judge will do anything. The problem is that if your friend complains to the judge, she risks damaging an already bad relationship with her lawyer, who she may be forced to rely on to regain her freedom.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You can call her and tell her that you are disappointed with her failure to communicate with you, and with her apparent disregard in keeping her client informed of the progress of his case. You can leave her with an ultimation: keep us informed, or we will fire you! Then again, maybe there is nothing happening with his case. You always have the option of firing this lawyer and hiring another one, but be warned, any money paid to this lawyer will in all probability, not be returned to you or to the defendant.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Your friend can hire a new attorney to replace your current attorney if her attorney is not giving any attention to her case. Note that unless there is a written waiver, the attorney should not be speaking to you in detail about your friends case without your friend being present.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    If your friend has a public defender he will have to be patient. If he is paying his attorney he should fire him or her.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    There may not be anything to update your friend on which is why the attorney hasn't talked to them. The attorney may not be calling you back because you are not the client. With th attorney-client privileged, there is little the attorney can talk to someone (other than the client) about the case. Have your friend write the attorney if he is dissatisfied to try and mend the relationship. If that does not work, the client should consider hiring a new attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Ther reasons that he might not see her are many. He could be neglecting the case, which is wrong, or he could be prepared to try the case and does not need to see her. An attorney will not go to see the client just to hold their hand; but will go to prepare the matter so that he can defend them. THe attorney usually will see the client when they need to see them for information or to discuss the matter.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If you are having problems with your attorney you can always fire your attorney and hire another one. If you have a public defender you cannot select the one you want. You can ask your attorney to help you file a Marsden motion relieving your public defender of your case. You will then have another attorney appointed for you. However, these motions against public defenders are rarely successful.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    She is not obligated to return your calls unless the guy signs a release telling her to talk to you. If she was hired you can fire her andget someone else. If she was court appointed there's not much you can do and ifyou try to get rid of her you will havemade an enemy for your friend.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You are never forced to have a certain attorney. You can fire that attorney and hire another. Or if it is court appointed, then you can try and ask the Judge for another. Problem is, you get what you pay for with court appointed.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Public Defenders are very busy. She should hire a private attorney if possible. Just because the attorney is not talking to her or retuning your calls does not mean that the attorney is not working on the case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/3/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Your friend can hire a lawyer or be patient. Lawyers generally handle the cases as they need to be handled. And, the lawyer is not your friend's "visiting" friend. If there is no need to visit, the lawyer will not visit - period. Just because there are not repeated visits does not mean that the lawyer is not working on the case. As far as returning your calls, the lawyer has zero obligation to call you or any other person. The only obligation for communication is with the client. Your friend can write to the lawyer if he has questions or comments, and the lawyer should visit or write back. Lawyers do not have time to call all the friends and loved ones of their clients and rely on their clients to keep those people updated on the case.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    It is not uncommon for a public defender to only visit a client in jail once or not at all. Most of the help that a criminal defense lawyer can offer is not done in the jail. It is done interviewing alibi witnesses, visiting the scene and writing motions. If the attorney is not representing your friend, then your friend can ask for a Marsden hearing. This is a hearing that the judge conducts to determine if your friend should be appointed a new attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    If s/he is a public defender, your friend can fire the attorney but will then be left without representation. You cannot pick which public defender you want. If the attorney is private counsel, your friend can also terminate counsel and then seek a new lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/16/2011
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