Do court appointed lawyers work for the police and prosecutor?

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This blog is part of a series of blogs which explores some frequently asked criminal law questions.

I cannot believe how many times I have been asked this question: Do court appointed lawyers work for the police and prosecutor?

Answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Pursuant to the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, a person who cannot afford an attorney may be entitled to an attorney appointed by the Court. The person requesting a Court appointed attorney may have to repay the cost for the attorney at a later date when he or she is able to do so.

Loyalty to the client is a vital element every attorney-client relationship. Therefore, criminal defense attorneys are prohibited by the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct from acting for anyone other than the “client” even though the fees may be paid by another person or entity!

The applicable Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct provides: A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer’s own interests.

Links to some other frequently asked questions:

Can my case be dismissed if I wasn’t advised of my Miranda rights?

Am I entitled to make a phone call if I am arrested?

Can I be charged with a crime if only one person says I did it and there are no other witnesses or evidence?