Severing the Appointed Attorney Client Relationship
My Appointed Attorney is Useless; What Can I Do?
The first thing you should try to do is re-establish a good relationship with him or her. Maybe he has been in another trial and can't respond to you right now. Maybe you are the kind of demanding client that calls every 15 minutes until he gets an answer. If either is the case you may be able to establish ground rules that help you work together. If nothing else works you should realize that you cannot fire a court appointed attorney. You didn't hire him. The only way to get rid of him is to complain to the Court. This is called a Marsden motion. When a defendant makes one the judge clears the court of everyone but court personnel and the attorney and listens to the client's complaints. If she agrees that the relationship is broken and it is the attorney's fault she can replace him.
What's the Down Side to a Marsden Motion?
Frankly most defendant complaints are ill-founded. Moreover the judge does not want to have to fire the attorney. If you make such a motion you can expect to hear her praise the attorney in the most glowing terms. The down side of a Marsden motion is that you will likely lose and then you are stuck with the attorney and he is pissed at you. When a defendant makes a Marsden motion, an attorney friend always makes sure to whisper in his ear after winning "You're going to be sorry you did that." He's joking but you get the idea.
What if the Attorney Can't Stand Me?
The attorney can make a motion which is a counterpart to a Marsden motion called a McKenzie motion. In a McKenzie motion the attorney is signaling to the judge that this defendant is so difficult the relationship can't go forward. Attorneys don't like to do this because even difficult clients deserve representation. But it does happen that it is necessary. If the motion is granted the attorney is relieved and the judge will appoint another.
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