What can we do if we have a public defender who's not returning any calls/correspondence?
Question Details: The court date is in 3 days and we've never spoken or met the attorney. Is this normal? All we want is to know if a continuance to give time to find a counselor who will actually represent is possible? There's been no access to fair legal representation at all in this instance. We have no idea what's going on as far as the case is concerned and have been shut out at every turn by the public defender. Is there anything that we can do?
At court, raise this to the judge and express that you have never met or spoken to your lawyer, that your lawyer has not ven returned your calls, and so you feel that the representation is inadequate. The judge has the power to give you time to find a different lawyer and very well may, since if the court forces you to proceed with a lawyer who won't even speak to you, you would have very good grounds for an appeal.
Youan request a "substitution of counsel". However the court does not have to allow it; there will need to be a hearing on this matter. That means that you can get another attorney to represent you if you can convince the judge that it is necessary in order to be adequately represented. To seek a hearing for substitution, you will need to write a letter to the judge, requesting a meeting, a copy should be sent to the attorney who you want removed, as well as the prosecutor. Make sure both copies and the original (which goes to the judge) are sent certified mail, return receipt requested (RRR). You'll also need to keep a copy for yourself. In this letter should you need to state that you want your current PD removed and why. You'll also need to list all of the problems that your having with your lawyer. Be sure to keep the letter short and to the point and be truthful as you don't want to jeopardize your position with the judge by stretching the truth.