Visitor Question

Seeking alternative representation in wrongful death case…

Submitted By: Mark (Billerica, MA USA)

We’ve had a Wrongful Death Case that’s been ongoing since approximately 2005. Thursday of last week, January 27th our council informed us they were not in support of going forward with the case scheduled to begin Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011.

Do we have any recourse, i.e., request extension from the court so we can retain alternative representation?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Mark,

Well, this is just terrible. Every attorney knows (or should know) that bailing on a client days before trial is ridiculous especially one such as this. Wrongful death cases should not be handled “pro per” (on your own), and without your attorney, what recourse do you have?

Here are your options:

For one, the attorney would either have to be formally substituted out by you which would require your signature and if you refuse to do so, would have to motion the court to withdraw. Now, no one wants an attorney working for them who does not want to be there. But I would suggest that you not sign the sub, forcing the attorney to show up to court on the day of trial and request withdrawal.

The argument made in support of the withdrawal should be made in chambers outside of the presence of any jury as well as opposing counsel as it might reveal cracks or weaknesses in your case. From there, an ETHICAL attorney would request a continuance to allow you to find counsel.

A second option for you is to ask your attorney to negotiate a continuance with the other side to avoid wasting the time of witnesses and the other attorney by showing up on the day set for trial to ask for a continuance.

It’s really a shame that your attorney has put you in such a bind, but if he/she is unwilling to assist you as I have suggested, go to court on the day set for trial and explain that your attorney has abandoned the case.

Most judges will be sympathetic to the plight of a pro per litigant and will give you the time needed to find another attorney (or face an appeal!!).

If you want to try to find another attorney you can do so on this page.

Best of luck.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 30, 2011

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