Can a public defender refuse to have another person present when discussing a case?

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Can a public defender refuse to have another person present when discussing a case?

I have a public defender who I don’t believe is defending me. I requested to have a family member present in a meeting with PD and she refused to allow that person in. I am not good about speaking up for myself and I wanted this person to help explain things for me.

Asked on February 17, 2016 under Criminal Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Having your mother there would waive or give up attorney-client privilege, since your mother is not the client and is also not one of your lawyers: when a case is discussed in front of third parties--even the parents of adult defendants--what is discussed is no longer confidential. The prosecutor could subpoena your mother and force her to testify as to what you said to or told your attorney in front of your mother. This could be disasterous for you. The public defender has an ethical and professional duty to not do anything to compromise or damage your case; discussing the case with your mother could, however, have been extraordinarily damaging. Probably the public defender did not do a good job of explaining the problem, but to answer your question, they may refuse to do something which they reasonably believe would conflict with their duty to you or damage your interests.


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