Discharging Court-Appointed Lawyer Before the Trial Begins

In Nelson v. State, 274 So. 2d 256, 258-59 (Fla. 4th DCA 1973), the Fourth District held that "where a defendant, before the commencement of trial, makes it appear to the trial judge that he desires to discharge his court appointed counsel, the trial judge, in order to protect the indigent's right to effective counsel, should make an inquiry of the defendant as to the reason for the request to discharge." Nelson, 274 So. 2d at 258. the Fourth District further held that: "If incompetency of counsel is assigned by the defendant as the reason, the trial judge should make a sufficient inquiry of the defendant and his appointed counsel to determine whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the court appointed counsel is not rendering effective assistance to the defendant." Id. at 258-59. Finally, the Fourth District stated that "if reasonable cause for such belief appears, the court should make a finding to that effect on the record and appoint a substitute attorney who should be allowed adequate time to prepare the defense." Id. at 259.