What to do if my public defender failed to show in court this week?

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What to do if my public defender failed to show in court this week?

What are my rights? His toll free number is out of service and the public defender’s office will not return my calls.

Asked on August 22, 2013 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can dismiss your attorney (i.e. fire) them from your case. You can do this by requesting a hearing for "substitution of court appointed counsel". This means that you can get your public defender replaced with another one if you can convince a judge that it is necessary (and failure to appear in court would definitely count). 

To seek such a hearing you should write a letter to the judge and request a meeting with them. A copy of the letter should be sent to both your current PD 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 your own files. It should state that you want your present attorney removed from the case and why; list all problems that you are having with them. The letter should be kept short and to the point and be truthful (you do not want to jeopardize your request by stretching the truth).

Further, 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); also state bar associations have lists of attorneys who work for no/low cost.


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