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Do clients have any authority when an attorney is hired?

Posted by Wais Azami | Jun 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

Who makes what decisions when an attorney is hired?  Do clients have any authority over certain things?  Are attorneys permitted to run the whole game to the end?  

Both the Client and Attorney have authority over certain decisions.  However, each one has different areas which they can control.  Let's look at each:

Authority of a Client/Defendant: 

The defendant retains the absolute right to decide certain issue affecting his/her fundamental rights. For example, the defendant can decide whether to plead guilty, to testify, to enter an insanity plea, or to demand a jury trial, among a few other rights.  

Authority of an Attorney: 

Once an counsel (attorney) becomes the attorney of record for the client, all legal steps must be taken by him/her.  Generally, the attorney controls all decisions affecting trial tactics and court proceedings which include, but are not limited to: 

>Whether to call a particular witness;

>Whether to introduce a particular evidence;

>Whether to object to evidence;

>Whether to stipulate to facts during the penalty phase;

>Whether to challenge a particular trial judge;

>Whether to request a change of venue;

>Whether to stipulate to proceed with fewer than 12 jurors; and

>Whether to request a determination of the defendant's competence to stand trial.  

My personal opinion: 

Why hire an attorney if you'll argue with him or her?  Why pay your hard-earned money?  There was a reason initially. It was most likely because you felt their skills, training and experience would best help fight for your rights. I know trials can be difficult and emotionally draining, but this is the one area of law where the odds are against you--when you choose to self-represent or argue with your attorney.  Such situations have been proven to have the least success rate in the long run.   It is for this reason that lawyers and doctors are asked not to represent/treat themselves or people close to them.  Such situations can cloud a person's judgment when they are involved.  A cool decision-maker makes the best call, generally.  

This information shall not be deemed legal advice nor shall it create any attorney-client relationship.  It is merely for informational purposes or academic purposes.

About the Author

Wais Azami

Orange County Criminal Law Attorney Blue-collar fight with a white-collar style. As a local criminal defense attorney in Garden Grove, I offer strong yet affordable representation to the people of Orange County, LA County, Inland Empire and the surrounding areas. Most of my clients have famil...


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