Can defendant change court-appointed lawyer?

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Can defendant change court-appointed lawyer?

During trial proceedings, if accused finds court-appointed is unaggressive (maybe unprepared) in their defense, can court appoint a different attorney? If so, how does this happen and how does it affect the jury?

Asked on May 9, 2009 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

LAR, Member CA State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You have a right to change lawyer, however, exercising that right has restrictions, particularly if you are in the midst of trial. 

You would have to make an emergency motion to the court to change counsel, explaining why you want to change.  There must be a legally recognized basis for this request, such as, you just found out that your lawyer has a conflict of interest in your case - something that will negatively impact your right to a far trial.  It is unlikely that a court will relieve your counsel in the midst of trial just because you think s/he is not assertive enough.  Lack of preparation could be a strong indicator, but again that is a very subjective view, which is supported by your comment of "maybe unprepared."

If the court will not entertain the motion to dismiss court-appointed counsel and appoint new counsel, you should continue to cooperate with your attorney and perhaps ask why the strategy is the way it is.  In the event you believe that the ultimate verdict is wrong, you can appeal the decision with new counsel to represent you and if there is a basis, have the appeal counsel raise the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial level, for which you are Constitutionally assured of having.

 


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