Is it too late for a public defender? My attorney had a Stroke and is no longer representing me and the trial is soon.

Asked almost 2 years ago - Albert Lea, MN

I was charged with a misdemeanor Dui in July 2010. There has been several delays, the last one was my Attorney suffered a stroke. Since then his office filed and was granted a motion to no longer represent me as he was the only attorney that handled this sort of thing. I received a notice of a trial date in the mail. Over the last couple years I have fallen on hard times and cannot afford another attorney so I went to the pre trial hearing with hopes to speak to the prosecutor for some sort of plea. I did so and was very disappointed with the offer! The prosecutor then told the judge in court that we have a pending deal and if she does not hear from me today we should go ahead with the trial on Tuesday. My question is; is it too late to ask for a court appointed attorney? According to the prosecutor my two options are to take this deal or represent myself on Tuesday. If I am still able to obtain a court appointed attorney, please advise.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Thomas C Gallagher

    Contributor Level 17


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    Answered . If you qualify for a public defender, the court would likely appoint one to represent you. Normally people apply the day of their first appearance. If a trial is imminent, I'd suggest contacting the public defender's office first thing in the morning, preferably in person, to seek help.

  2. Christopher Wesley Keyser

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . It is worth your time to bring these points to the judge's attention, and you may get a public defender appointed to you. However, do not wait until the last second when you are in court for your scheduled court appearance. As my colleague suggests, go see the Public Defender and court personnel immediately.

  3. Christopher Jay Cadem


    Contributor Level 10


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . The Court should have held a hearing on your previous attorney's motion to withdraw. At that hearing, the Court should have addressed your need for continued representation. The Court should not make you proceed without an attorney in these circumstances, as your right to counsel (or right to proceed without counsel) must be knowingly and voluntarily made. In the event that you qualify for a public defender, you will be granted one. You should contact court administration without further delay. In the event you do not qualify, but can no longer afford an attorney due to the payment made to your previous attorney, your previous attorney should refund some or all of your retainer due to his failure to perform on the retainer contract due to no fault of your own. I hope that helps. Best of luck.

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  4. Charles K. Kenyon Jr.

    Contributor Level 20


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    Answered . It is not too late, but you can make it too late by waiting until you are next in court.

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  5. Andrew M. Leone

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Its not too late, assuming you qualify for a public defender. Right now (if you haven't already done so), you should contact the public defender's office, court administration, and the judge's law clerk. Make sure you let everyone know your situation immediately.

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