Wondering how the court makes the decision to appoint an attorney? The basic process is that you complete the application prior to your Arraignment and bring it with you to present to the judge. If the Court determines that you qualify financially, you will be given the lawyers’ business card. You’ll also be encouraged to call and set an appointment. The attorney that the court appoints won’t know that you have been selected to work with them until after your Arraignment.
If you decide to go the route of applying for a Public Defender, sometimes called a Court Appointed Attorney, the court doesn’t choose an attorney specifically for you – they appoint an attorney. This means, you don’t get to choose who you get. You don’t get to see if you work well together or if you connect with this person. You don’t get to see if this person understands who you are or what’s important to you.
Once your attorney is assigned to you, they will continue to represent you. But if you don’t like them or don’t feel that the process is working for you, it can be problematic. It is difficult to get them to appoint a different attorney. A judge is not going to grant you a new attorney if you don’t get along. They also won’t grant you a new attorney if they aren’t telling you what you want to hear or they’re not listening to what’s important to you. It’s not the state’s job to make sure that you have an attorney that you like, only that you have one.
Reynolds Defense Firm does not do Court Appointed work, all our clients are privately retained for our representation. What this means is that all our clients choose us as the attorney that they want to work with. Then, they pay directly for our services and we, in turn, agree that they are someone we want to work with.
Who does court appointed work?
There are two ways that attorneys do Court Appointed Attorney (or public defender) work in Oregon. First, there are groups of Public Defenders that do all Court Appointed work and nothing else. Examples in Portland are Multnomah Defenders and Metropolitan Public Defender Services. The duty of a public defender is straight forward. They defend people facing criminal charges who cannot afford to hire a lawyer privately.
Often, there are not enough Public Defenders to meet the need of the court. The court then pays private attorneys with public funds, just like they do with public defenders. These private attorneys own or work in a law firm that does criminal defense work. This work is both for clients who hire them directly (private work) and court appointed work on a contractual basis for the state.