Can a public defender tell a client that if he wants to go to court for a jury trial that he has to “hire” a lawyer?

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Can a public defender tell a client that if he wants to go to court for a jury trial that he has to “hire” a lawyer?

It has come to my attention, after a conversation with an accused individual now being held in jail that his public defender is not exercising his defined duties on his client’s behalf as prescribed by state law.  Yesterday the court appointed public defender told this defendant to take a plea deal or he would have to hire an attorney if he wanted to go to trial.

Asked on November 22, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A public defender can tell a client that if he wants to go to court and have a jury trial that he has to "hire" a lawyer to try the case before a jury. Whether this is ethical or not depends upon the state that the supposed conversation you are referencing happened and the context of the conversation.

From what you described, the attorney who had the alleged conversation that you reference either is uncomfortable trying a case, let alone trying a case before a jury or simply does not want to try the case for his client. In any event, the criminal client would be best served by getting another attorney to represent him or her.


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