Q: Is it legal for a judge to recommend a public defender?
A: It is never illegal for a judge to "recommend" anything, let alone when they are recommending that you preserve your right to counsel under the 6th Amendment by suggesting a PD if/when you cannot afford a private lawyer otherwise. PDs are assigned to specific courtrooms and whichever is appointed to your case is the one that you are stuck with. You cannot request a specific PD and there is no legal objection otherwise. If you do not wish to have that PD, you can simply represent yourself "pro se." The only other way to get another attorney is if there is a legal conflict of interest with the assigned-PD, which, after a private ex-parte hearing, a separate judge determines is legal and warranting other appointment of the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel.
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