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What do you do when you cant afford a lawyer and the public defender is not doing a good job but you are innocent?

Barstow, CA |

my brother is getting charged with things he didnt do because a girlfriend got jealous. He is innocent and we cant afford a lawyer for him and the public defender is not trying hard. He could be facing lots of years.What do we do now?

Attorney Answers 7


  1. PD's are good at what they do but they have limited time and resources. You could call around to see if a local attorney would take it pro bono.. if the case is appealing to him/her then maybe they'd sign on. Other than that, try the legal aid society.

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.


  2. By not trying hard, do you mean they are not doing what you want them to do? There is a difference. However, I suggest you contact a number of defense counsel and find one who can arrange payments.


  3. I suggest your brother talk to his PD and try to mend the relationship. Most PDs are excellent attorneys but a little pressed for time. If your brother insists politely he may get more aggressive representation.


  4. Sometimes in the early stages of a criminal case, it appears that a public defender (or private counsel, for that matter) is not giving a case the attention we feel it deserves. If your brother is innocent of the charges, then he needs to make sure that the case gets set for trial and consider not waiving time on the case.


  5. You get some money together and hire an attorney. I've no doubt that there is a good deal of information you don't know and your brother is not telling you. Domestic violence cases, which I suspect this is, are a headache. How do you know his public defender is not trying hard? Is that what your brother is telling you? If your brother is truly innocent, his public defender will get him acquitted.


  6. I would try to have an open conversation with this person in a pefessional manner. If this does not work, you can ask the court for a marsden hearing. At the hearing, the court will determine whether to assign a new public defender to your case.


  7. Often, the public defenders are the first to be blamed when a case is not going as a defendant had wished or expected. This is often because they are the easiest to blame and because of the mentality that a service must be sub-par if you don't have to pay good money for it. My experience is, however, that public defenders are usually the best attorneys in the courthouse, and it is often a shame when people are over-income and do not quality for a public defender.

    So, first, I would see if the family is just frustrated (and understandably so) and looking for someone to blame.

    If this is really not what is going, I would suggest the client (brother) request a face-to-face meeting with his attorney within the week to find out what the attorney's plan is. He can determine from this meeting if the attorney has done any work on the case or seems to know what he is doing. If he is not satisfied at the end of the meeting, he can request to speak to the attorney's supervisor and move up the chain of command. If that doesn't work, he should document all the reasons for his dissatisfaction, including the steps that he took to resolve the issue (e.g., the face-to-face meeting, speaking with the supervisor), then make Marsden motion.

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