What to do if a public defender is ignoring your case?

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What to do if a public defender is ignoring your case?

My daughter has been in jail on drug violations for over 3 weeks. She saw a public defender the first day she was incarcerated but has not been able to contact them about her case since the day she was charged. Is this a violation of her legal rights?

Asked on September 22, 2011 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This may well be a violation of your daughter's legal rights: the consitutional right to an attorney is not satisfied by having an attorney assigned who does not actually communicate with you or effectively represent you. If you have qualms about this public defender, you or your daughter should first contact his or her manager and discuss them; but if you're still not satisfied, you should contact the court. If you know the judge on this matter, contact the judge's chambers (that's basically the judge's office); if you don't know the judge, contact the main number for the clerk of the criminal court. Your daughter is entitled to effective representation; worst case, if you can't get a better trial counsel and your daughter is convicted owing in part to an ineffective attorney, that could itself provide grounds for an appeal. Good luck.


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