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Family Law - Alameda County - California - Attorney is unresponsive. Is direct contact with Judge the appropriate method?

Alameda, CA |

The current attorney on record is absolutely non-responsive. The client has requested this attorney repeatedly to file an ex-parte to seek immediate relief from the court but this attorney simply refuses to do so.

The court order during the recently held hearing was clear and specific; even the FAOAH has been filed and signed. Yet, the other side continues to ignore this order and has not complied with this order. So the client wants this attorney to file an ex-parte against the other side but this attorney is not willing to file the ex-parte.

There is still money left in the retainer so immediate substitution is not an option. Can the client contact the presiding Judge directly to seek much needed immediate relief? If so, what is the process involved? Thank you.

NOTE: This is not just about a Attorney-Client dispute. This is about the client trying to file an ex-parte against the other side for not following the court order and this attorney not being responsive. Any answer that provides direction on how the client can seek/get the immediate relief, is greatly appreciated. There is a court order already in place. It is just the attorney not wanting to file the exparte that is causing extreme grief to the client. Because the attorney is still on the attorney on record, this prohibits the client from filing the ex-parte on their own. Will writing a letter to the presiding judge is the proper way to address this unique situation?

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Attorney answers 3


No, the court (whether the sitting judge for the case, the supervising judge, or the presiding judge) will never get involved with attorney-client disputes, other than to grant a noticed motion for an attorney to be relieved as counsel of record for a party.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


I doubt if you are correct, if there is money left in your retainer you can terminate the relationship and request a refund of the unused fees. This is the rule, and the exception would be if somehow or other the attorney finagled it where he keeps the unearned fees. By and large, this is a rare exception of the rule, especially in Family Law. You really should move forward and obtain legal counsel you are comfortable with. Whatever you do, "DO NOT DIRECTLY CONTACT THE JUDGE." This would be a major league error. It is never well received.

Retain a competent, experienced, aggressive attorney who will step up to the plate, file an ex parte, and get to business.

This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client relationship by providing said information to you on this site. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute, offer, induce, promise, or contract of any kind. The content provided is presented as a courtesy to be used only for informational purposes and is not represented to be error free. The Law Offices of John N. Kitta makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to its answer to inquiries, and such representations and warranties are being expressly disclaimed. Given limited facts, we are attempting to share relevant information concerning this area of the law as a public service.


1. No, Contacting the judge directly will (a) not be responded to by the judge because it would look like the judge is favoring you with a private conversation and (b) will rightfully upset the judge.

2. Unused amounts of retainer should be refunded to you after a WRITTEN request by you to your attorney.

3. Upon WRITTEN request by you (email) that your attorney cease representing you, your attorney should file a Substitution of Attorney form making you your own attorney and, if he does not file the Substition form, then bring a motion and use your email request he cease as evidence against your attorney.

4. your attorney may be absolutely correct in not bringing an ex-parte motion: If the order the other side is not complyiong with is NOT causing an emergency (E.g, not providing you report cards is not an emergency), and you bring a motion exparte without an emergency, then the judge WILL deny the emergency relief you requested AND may be upset at you that you brought it exparte. "Emergency" does NOT mean someone failed to follow an order (which should be comp,ained of by regular motion), but rather is for cases like where a child is about to have his head ripped off. You should seek a consultaion with a different attorney to see if you really have a proper situation for an exparte.

Thomas Neil is a Sacramento attorney, with 20 years experience, representing clients in court in Sacramento, the Bay Area, and surrounding counties. Or, if you cannot afford full representation then Mr. Neil can instead write you the forms and declaration you need, help you serve them, and tell you what to say and you can go to court by yourself. A well written declaration by an attorney, supported by proper evidence, will GREATLY increase your chances of success in court. Our office takes credit cards.

Thomas A Neil
3224 El Camino Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 446-4153

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