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Can I represent myself on appeal

Floral Park, NY |

I have a brief that was prepared by a Pro-Bono firm that went out of business, this said brief was oversaw by the attorney who is now representing me. However, this attorney decided to completely rewrite the brief and undermine the work that took me and the other attorneys 2 years to complete. He's only reason is that its a matter of style and what he think is right. Is it possible to ask the Court to remove this attorney and I would represent myself with the previous brief. Is there a motion I have to file or can I address the Court of this issue. Please Help time i running out

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Attorney answers 7

Best Answer

You always have a right to represent yourself, whether it be on appeal, or in the lower courts. Keep in mind the court will expect you to follow the rules as an attorney would, so get the rules and read them closely.

Answers posted here are suggestions only, and are not intended to replace advice given by an attorney that you hire.


You can represent yourself. The judge will probably ask you some questions to make sure you have the ability or he/she may try to get a public defender appointed to represent you.


Can you represent yourself-yes, however, I wold advise you doing so is unwise. Appellate stage of the legal proceeding is a complex arena and having a experienced attorney by your side is paramount in increasing your chances of success.

Good Luck!
Inna Rifman, Esq.

Inna Rifman

Inna Rifman




You can but it is better to have a lawyer.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 17 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


If I were representing you on appeal I would file my own brief, too, and would not rely on the work done by a previous attorney, let alone by a pro se litigant. Think this through before you trash a lawyer who may be doing the best thing for you. You do not have a federal constitutional right to represent yourself on appeal, but most states will let you do it as a matter of state law or rule of court. It is as poor an idea as I can possibly imagine, but at least have no one but yourself to blame if you fail.


Your other post said you haven't filed the brief yet. If that's accurate, you can fire your attorney and re-edit and rewrite the brief however you want. Is the current attorney retained or assigned? If assigned, he can withdraw only with court permission. If retained, you should contact the App. Div. Clerk to find out how you discharge him of record so you can proceed pro se. Courts are often reluctant to allow an attorney to withdraw if that will leave a client without counsel, unless the court is very sure that's what the client wants.

What makes you think time is running out? There are no filing deadlines for criminal appeals in the Second Department.

I am not your attorney and any posts/messages or responses to posts/messages can not and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon free legal advice, and I disclaim any liability for the outcome if you do. Any opinions offered on matters outside New York State are for general informational purposes only.


You have the right to represent yourself. However, it is not a very good idea. A better route would be to file a supplemental brief along with your attorney's if you feel there are additional substantive points that should be made.

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