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The court proceedings involving Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio may be old news, but the fact that his attorney has recently withdrawn himself from the case is not. On Friday, the attorney representing Arpaio in his contempt trial, Tim Casey, submitted a motion to Judge Murray Snow asking for approval to withdraw from the case, stating he is “ethically required” to do so.
Karen Clark, legal counsel for Casey, says that the withdraw request comes in response to a testimony given by the Sheriff last week. In the testimony, Arpaio reportedly disclosed that Casey had hired a private investigator to confirm statements allegedly made by Judge Snow’s wife, who is accused of saying that her husband “wanted to do everything to make sure [Arpaio] is not elected.”
To further complicate the matter, Arpaio’s Chief Deputy, Jerry Sheridan, apparently made a separate testimony in which he stated that there was no private investigation into Judge Snow or any members of his family.
Attorneys can fire their clients?!
As a client, you have the luxury of firing your attorney at any time for any reason under the sun. Attorneys, however, are not offered the same privilege. If an attorney wants to withdraw from a case, they must have a valid reason to do so.
There are some circumstances in which an attorney is ethically required to withdraw from a case and other situations when an attorney may apply to do so with a valid reason.
Under what circumstances is an attorney ethically required to withdraw from a case?
A lawyer may be legally required to withdraw from a case if the following applies:
- The attorney is violating a law or the rules of professional conduct.
- The attorney has been suspended from practicing law by a disciplinary committee.
- The client wishes to terminate their relationship with the attorney.
- The attorney is physically or mentally incapable of representing their client.
- The attorney or their firm is representing an adversary party in the case. This is also known as a conflict of interest.
Under what circumstances may an attorney apply to withdraw from a case?
An attorney may submit a motion to withdraw from a case if they have a valid reason to do so. Commonly accepted reasons include:
- Failure to pay attorneys’ fees. Regardless of whether a client signed a contract with their attorney prior to representation, the client has the obligation to pay their attorney for any services performed.
- Conflicting case strategies. When a client and their attorney cannot reach an agreement regarding case strategy, it is often in the client’s best interest for the attorney to withdraw.
- Criminal, unethical, or fraudulent activity by the client. An attorney cannot help you commit activities which may be deemed criminal, unethical, or fraudulent.
- Client’s failure to fulfill obligations. A successful attorney-client relationship involves a good deal of communication on behalf of both parties. If the client is failing to provide their attorney with requested information or documents, the attorney may seek to withdraw from the case.
- Client consent. If the attorney receives permission from their client to withdraw from the case, they may do so.
- Personality conflicts. When attorneys and clients are unable to get along amicably, the likeliness of a successful case outcome diminishes dramatically, and it is often in the best interests of both parties for the attorney to withdraw from the case.
Please keep in mind: it is extremely rare for an attorney to submit a motion to withdraw from a case.
Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney
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