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Does a lawyer have to withdraw before a pro se entry of appearance is entered?

Lincoln, IL |

Had a lawyer, got a court order. Lawyer went to prosecuting in a county over but never withdrew from case. Can I enter my appearance without the withdraw? I know I really need a lawyer but I don't have 2000 laying around again for a retainer and I need a petition for contempt filed right away.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. You should contact your lawyer about this. Normally an attorney will rectify the situation as he/she does not want to be the lawyer of record when he no longer represents you.

    Otherwise, depending on the the court, you can advise the court and it will let you substitute as your own attorney. Most judges get a little annoyed if an attorney has an appearance on file and does not show up to court. I have seen judges order that the attorney appear and explain him/herself when this happens.

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  2. It does provide a judge with a dilemma--Until your lawyer withdraws, technically, you are still represented by counsel, and judges do not want to force a party to proceed without counsel, if counsel is of record. The court has to permit the withdrawal. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 13.

    In my experience in one case, the judge issued a body attachment against a lawyer who was ordered to appear and failing to come to court on behalf of his client. The attorney of record did not show up for his client on the day of trial. Most judges would want to know why that happened.

    It does depend on the judge, however, and the type of case. I'd recommend that you send the lawyer a letter and ask him to make the appearance to withdraw--the trip from his new county will be worth it.

    The information provided here should not be construed to be formal legal advice. The provision of this general advice does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Persons with legal questions are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.


  3. Your former attorney should have sought leave to withdraw. If you know where he is, your best approach would be to have him file a motion to withdraw, even if he does not appear in court. Then you could go and file your own appearance. If he declines t file a motion, just go and file your pro se appearance. It will be confusing for the court and the clerk, but you really won't have any other choice. If you had retained new counsel the new lawyer could have taken care of this for you.