Atlanta, GA asked in Criminal Law, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Legal Malpractice for Georgia

Q: Is a judge allowed to force me to represent myself pro se even though I am indigent because my appointed lawyer quit

codef repsntd by PD's office, i was conflicted out- great relationship, negotiated agreement w/ DA- dismissal if codef admit ownership at plea entry. 5mos past and discovery was not made available. eventually attny withdraw b/c state failed to pay for services. -11mos no new appointed attny. my life con'd to deteriorate significantly. found pro bono advocate, was under impression initial agreement was still on the table, confident in my both innosence and shoddy paperwork means this an easy open and close case so long as everyone is acting ethical and legally. 6 more mos also unable to elicit discovery materials, had to request payment and i am unable to afford. mons for new attny, sent 39 emails and dozens of phone calls unanswered, xperssed concern for inefctve counsel. at apperance lied to judge on the record saying i never attepted to contact him and wanted off of my case, withdrwal, pubilc defender said that state would not pay for me to have another lawyer. trial set without rep

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: You have the right to legal representation, especially if you are indigent and facing criminal charges. If your appointed attorney quits, the court is generally responsible for appointing a new attorney to represent you. It's unusual and potentially a violation of your rights for a judge to force you to represent yourself, especially if you are indigent and have made efforts to secure legal representation.

Your situation, where your attorney withdrew due to non-payment by the state and no new attorney was appointed for an extended period, raises serious concerns. The fact that you made numerous efforts to communicate with your attorney and were still left without representation could be grounds for claiming ineffective counsel.

If you're being forced to go to trial without representation, this could be a violation of your Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. You should raise this issue with the court immediately. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the court should appoint one for you.

Given the complexity of your case and the issues with your legal representation, consider reaching out to legal aid organizations or pro bono attorneys in your area. They might be able to provide assistance or at least guide you on how to proceed.

Document all your attempts to secure legal representation and any communication with your previous attorney. This documentation can be crucial in arguing your case and proving the challenges you've faced in obtaining effective legal representation.

Remember, it's essential to act quickly and assert your rights. The court should not proceed with your trial without ensuring that you have adequate legal representation, particularly given your indigent status.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.