Q: How should I let the judge know before my next hearing that my assigned lawyer is uncommunicative and incompetent?
I have a lawyer who is extremely uncommunicative. There was a change in my assigned attorney last year in August and I, the defendant , was not notified by anyone. I found it out by accident in Jan. of this year and emailed my new attorney. That was five months I, effectively, had no representation. Since Jan my new lawyer Ms. R. has been impossible to work with. She does not respond to any requests for status, update, or anything without much prodding. She will go several days, weeks even months without even confirming she receives my attempts to communicate. In Feb. after much prodding she finally motioned for funds for expert witness and got approval but to this day has still not hired one. And she has done nothing about getting funds for an investigator. In nearly 10 months she has been my attorney she has not done one constructive thing in my defense and I have a pre-trial hearing coming up in three weeks. I have asked her to file to withdraw and heard nothing from her.
Court-appointed attorneys are overworked and underpaid just about everywhere. Your best bet overall is probably to hire a local criminal defense attorney who DOESN'T accept court appointments. However, not everyone thinks they can afford that... but can they afford prison?
Anyway, your best bet for convincing the judge to appoint someone else is probably to document every communication and even every attempt at communication. You could print out on paper the emails, text messages, and phone message notes, plus the time and date they were sent and when they were returned. Then you could make a little packet to present and then make copies of the packet. Even then it probably won't work but, in the rare situation where the judge decides to have a little impromptu hearing on the spot, you'll want to be prepared with copies of the packet for the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, clerk, and of course keep the original for yourself. Also, it might be a good idea to redact out anything private that the judge or prosecutor SHOULDN'T see on the original packet before you make those copies.
Warning: Different is not always better. I have seen judges appoint the worst possible attorney for defendants who complain about their existing attorney. Dress well and call the judge "your honor" because the more professional of an image you present, the more likely you will get what you want.
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