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Ethical Obligations of Lawyers Who Represent Indigent Criminal Defendants When Excessive Caseloads Interfere With Competent and Diligent Representation
All lawyers, including public defenders and other lawyers who, under court appointment or government contract, represent indigent persons charged with criminal offenses, must provide competent and diligent representation. If workload prevents a lawyer from providing competent and diligent representation to existing clients, she must not accept new clients. If the clients are being assigned through a court appointment system, the lawyer should request that the court not make any new appointments. Once the lawyer is representing a client, the lawyer must move to withdraw from representation if she cannot provide competent and diligent representation. If the court denies the lawyer's motion to withdraw, and any available means of appealing such ruling is unsuccessful, the lawyer must continue with the representation while taking whatever steps are feasible to ensure that she will be able to competently and diligently represent the defendant.
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