What to do if my court appointed attorney is not working for my best interests?

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What to do if my court appointed attorney is not working for my best interests?

My DUI case been going on for coming up on 2 years; this is my 1st offense. I refused and I have already served my 1 year suspension and will have completed my 1 year ignition interlock period at the end of this year. I was summoned to court 5months ago for it. I still have not resolved it. I just accepted a job offer after having have been unemployed for 3 months. I don’t know what to do.

Asked on August 16, 2012 under Criminal Law, Kansas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The obvious answer is that now that you are working you can hire your own attorney. However, if you still don't make enough money and remain eligible for a court appointed lawyer, then you can petition the court for a new one. However, just because you can ask for a new one, doesn't mean that the court has to allow it. There will need to be a hearing. That means that you can get a different attorney to represent you if you can convince the judge that this is necessary.
 
What you need to do is to request a hearing for "substitution of counsel". You should write a letter to the judge and ask for a meeting with them regarding your lawyer. A copy should be sent to both your attorney and the prosecutor (make sure both copies and the original, which goes to the judge, are sent certified mail; you also need to keep a copy for yourself). This letter should state that you want your present counsel removed from your case and why.  You'll need to list all problems that you are having with them. The letter should be kept short and to the point and be sure that it is truthful (you do not want to jeopardize your position before the judge by stretching the truth).
 
Additionally, you can contact legal aid and see if they would take you case; if not, ask if they know of an attorney that will volunteer to do it "pro bono" (for free) or contact the local bar association and see if they can recommend free/low cost legal help.


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