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What responsibilities does a public defender have to a client once appointed?

Cleveland, OH |

My son was facing several serious charges, he was held in 'county jail' for several months awaiting processing, the attorney never came to speak with him once. At all of the hearings, the att. was present and instructed my son on what to say/plead etc., without any knowledge of several inconsistensies that existed. My son said he 'did as he was told ' by the attorney because he kidn't know what else to do. He ended up being found guilty for several things that he was not guilty of, because he was despondent and knew he could not afford to get a private attorney. I was unaware of everything that was happening, as it is made next to impossible to communicate with inmates. I believe the attorney was negligent. Is possible for my son to appeal, and, can the att. be held liable for mis-condu?

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Attorney answers 5


Ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial stage can be the basis for an appeal. And the obligation of an attorney to properly handle a client's case are no less for appointed counsel than for retained counsel. Therefore, if you feel that an appeal is appropriate, make sure that he is aware and is in compliance with any deadlines to file the notice of appeal. The court should appoint counsel to handle the appeal.

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The short answer iz that your son's PD had the same obligations to your son as does a privately-retained attorney. S/He has to meet with the client, review the charges, investigate the facts, research and undsrstand the feasibility of all possible defenses, and ultimately either negotiate a plea ageement or present those defenses at a Trial.

It's really difficult to give you any information on whether your son has valid grounds for an Appeal or not; one would need to review 1) the charges, 2) all the evidence against him, 3) what action and advice the PD gave your son, and 4) what the final sentence.was. That's much more than.Avvo is do. Your son, not you, can start off by making a formal request for a meeting with his PD or the PD's Supervisor in the PD office. He should bring a list of questions he needs answered and a notebook to write down the.answers he gets during the appointment. He should also ask for copies of "discovery," which are the incident, investigative, and.arrest reports compiled by the police, plus witness statements, lab tests, etc only after he has all these documents will you be in a position to determine whether is PD did everything for you me couldn't should

The above information is shared for educational and discussion purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship is intended or established through your reliance on the information provided. If your legal rights could be impacted by using this information, you are urged to seek legal counsel before taking action. Atty. Dennis A. DiMartino 1032 Boardman-Canfield Road Suite 103 Youngstown, OH 44512-4238 330.629.9030 Ext. 111 Phone 330.629.9036 FAX


The other answering attorneys are correct. The duties are the same between a Public Defender and a private attorney. Sometimes a plea can be reversed if a motion for new trial is filed soon enough. (That right might have been waived by your son in the plea process. Sometimes you might just have to have an appeal lawyer look over the paperwork. Possibly even a writ process to resolve the case. I have found that there are many times a child (an adult child) does not want to admit their criminal behavior to their own parents and they blame everyone but themselves claiming they are innocent, when in fact they are guilty.

I have seen this happen in cases where the client confessed on video, (prior to my retention or appointment). The confession was freely and voluntarily given and not coerced, etc. But Client could not tell their parents of their criminal activities, knowing that the confession was going to be Exhibit A at trial. Hiring an attorney to review the records will assist you in deciding what to do. Good Luck

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Depending on where he is procedurally, he may be able to withdraw his guilty pleas pursuant to Crim. Rule 32.1. I suggest you retain counsel to visit him at the jail and obtain his version of the events. Then, based on that and the docket report of his case, a determination can be made if there is an avenue to vacate the plea.


A direct appeal is time sensitive; your son only has 30 days to file after the finding of guilt is journalized. And his appeallate options may depend on his plea or manner of conviction.

A motion for a new trial is also time sensitive. Ordinarily, the motion is due 14 days after the verdict. If there is newly discovered evidence the motion must be filed within 120 days.

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