Ex parte Walker

In Ex parte Walker, 675 So. 2d 408 (Ala. 1996) the Court observed: "Ms. Walker asserts that the failure of the trial judge to substitute counsel of her choice is an abuse of discretion, contending that the ruling violates her Sixth Amendment right to counsel. In support of this contention, Ms. Walker cites numerous federal cases that address the issue of whether an indigent criminal defendant has a right to choose the attorney appointed to represent him. See, e.g., United States v. Padilla-Martinez, 762 F.2d 942 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. (1985); Birt v. Montgomery, 725 F.2d 587 (11th Cir. 1984); Gandy v. Alabama, 569 F.2d 1318 (5th Cir. 1978). Although these cases acknowledge that an indigent defendant has a right to request counsel of his or her choice, the law is clear that the right of an indigent defendant to choose counsel is not absolute. In determining whether an indigent defendant is entitled to choose his or her appointed counsel, a trial court must balance this request against a number of factors to determine whether the request would frustrate the public interest in the prompt and efficient administration of the criminal justice system." (Ex parte Walker, 675 So. 2d at 410.) In Walker, the indigent capital defendant moved to substitute the nonresident lawyer for one of her two court-appointed lawyers. In Walker, the defendant requested representation by a lawyer who had agreed to work without compensation from the State. The Court held in Walker: "These facts are analogous to a factual setting where a nonindigent criminal defendant procures counsel of his or her choice. A trial judge would have no authority to bar that attorney from representing that defendant, so long as that attorney was qualified to practice law in this State and the representation would not frustrate the public interest in the fair and efficient administration of justice. The fact that Ms. Walker has inadequate resources to hire an attorney should be of no consequence, if she can secure representation at no expense to the State. Just as a defendant who can pay for legal counsel has a right to choose his or her own attorney, an indigent defendant can choose to be represented by an attorney who offers to represent the defendant at no expense to the State." (Walker, 675 So. 2d at 410.)