Draft a letter telling him that you are firing him and request that he withdraw from your case. Then, go to the public defender's office and fill out an application. You still have to meet the income guidelines though.
for future sake, never enter an agreement without a contract.
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Mail a letter to your attorney requesting that he withdraw, ask for an accounting of what he has done and what he has charged against the $2,500 that you paid him, and also ask for a refund. If your attorney fails to respond to your request for an accounting, you can always contact the Missouri Bar Association to file a complaint against him. There used to be an attorney/client fee dispute resolution service through the bar association but I'm not sure if that still exists.
Yes, he has to formally withdraw by filing a motion to withdraw.
Firing the old attorney does not assure that the judge will appoint a public defender for you. You will have to prove that you don't have the money to hire a private attorney.
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The other attorneys have given you good advice. You need to send a letter in writing terminating his services and ask for an accounting of the time he has spent. It really depends on the contract and the amount of time he claims he has spent as to whether you will get your money back.There is a fee dispute resolution procedure for the Missouri Bar. Yes,once you terminate him, he has to withdraw. You may need to review your fee contract.