Usually a public defender needs to take whatever case they are assigned. But occasionally they can't because they have acp conflict of interest. For example, they may represent someone involved your case.
As a former public defender I can emphatically say that NO they can't turn down your case UNLESS they have a conflict of interest as Mr. Peterson said. The most common conflict of interest is that they already represent another person who would be a witness against you in your case.
That sounds like an issue between the lawyers and the court. It would seem likely that the local lawyers have conflicts. There are not many public defenders in the area, it is not unusual that one would have to drive some distance to handle cases.
This response does not create an attorney client relationship and is offered for informational purposes only. Only a lawyer fully versed on the facts and circumstances of your case can properly advise you on the case. I am licensed to practice in Minnesota, not every state. You should always consult with an attorney licensed in your area on how best to proceed.
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