Albuquerque, NM asked in Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for New Mexico

Q: How hard is it to fire a court appointed federal public defender?

My boyfriend and I feel that his current attorney does not have my boyfriend's best interest at heart. He doesn't seem very engaged in the case and was even agreeing somewhat with the procecuter during arraignment. He also doesn't seem to any strategy for the case so far. Would it be best to try and fire him asap or are we basically stuck with him? I was reading online that it is difficult to get another attorney appointed is that correct?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Stephen Aarons
Stephen Aarons
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Licensed in New Mexico

A: Our Federal Public Defenders and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys are among the best in the business, under-appreciated and overworked by qvery good, Wolfe. Usually when a defendant or his friends/family want a new lawyer, the problem is not the lawyer but the client having unreasonable expectations. The US Attorneys only take the so-called "good cases" and what is good for them is bad for the defense. That being said, it is possible to demand a new lawyer. If your boyfriend tells his current attorney, the attorney will file a motion to withdraw as counsel and usually the district judge will conduct a short hearing without the prosecutor, just the defendant and his attorney and court personnel, to inquiry why they cannot get along. And almost always the judge will appoint a substitute CJA lawyer to allow the current attorney to withdraw from further representation. Some people simply need a second opinion when the first is so negative but, again, more times than not the new lawyer agrees with the first lawyer's assessment of the case. Be careful not to repeat this procedure again because, after all, the district judge is the one who decides the legal issues and if your boyfriend is found guilty of any crime, the district judge will be the one who imposes a sentence. Given that, it is not wise to repeatedly ask the district judge for another lawyer when the first is well respected.

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