What does 'Interlocutory Petition to Withdraw Appearance' mean?
The precise answer will depend on who submitted the petition and the circumstances involved. Generally, a petition is a formal request made to the court. Interlocutory refers to something that is decided during the course of an action or lawsuit.
An appearance in a legal action may be made by an attorney or a party to the lawsuit. If the appearance is withdrawn, that individual or entity is no longer on record as being currently involved in the case. If an attorney withdraws from representing a party in the case, another attorney may be substituted in his/her place. A motion for withdrawal made by an attorney is often accompanied by a motion to substitute another attorney. There may be many reasons for the decision to withdraw, such as conflict with a client, the client's failure to pay money owed, scheduling unavailability, and others.
The following is from the PA Code:
Rule 120. Attorneys—Appearances and Withdrawals.
(A) ENTRY OF APPEARANCE
(1) Counsel for defendant shall file an entry of appearance with the clerk of courts promptly after being retained, and serve a copy of the entry of appearance on the attorney for the Commonwealth.
(a) If a firm name is entered, the name of an individual lawyer shall be designated as being responsible for the conduct of the case.
(b) The entry of appearance shall include the attorney’s address, phone number, and attorney ID number.
(2) When counsel is appointed pursuant to Rule 122 (Appointment of Counsel), the filing of the appointment order shall enter the appearance of appointed counsel.
(3) Counsel shall not be permitted to represent a defendant following a preliminary hearing unless an entry of appearance is filed with the clerk of courts.
(4) An attorney who has been retained or appointed by the court shall continue such representation through direct appeal or until granted leave to withdraw by the court pursuant to paragraph (B).
(B) WITHDRAWAL OF APPEARANCE
(1) Counsel for a defendant may not withdraw his or her appearance except by leave of court.
(2) A motion to withdraw shall be:
(a) filed with the clerk of courts, and a copy concurrently served on the attorney for the Commonwealth and the defendant; or
(b) made orally on the record in open court in the presence of the defendant.
(3) Upon granting leave to withdraw, the court shall determine whether new counsel is entering an appearance, new counsel is being appointed to represent the defendant, or the defendant is proceeding without counsel.
Representation as used in this rule is intended to cover court appearances or the filing of formal motions. Investigation, interviews, or other similar pretrial matters are not prohibited by this rule.
Paragraph (A)(2) was added in 2005 to make it clear that the filing of an order appointing counsel to represent a defendant enters the appearance of appointed counsel. Appointed counsel does not have to file a separate entry of appearance. Rule 122 (Appointment of Counsel) requires that (1) the judge include in the appointment order the name, address, and phone number of appointed counsel, and (2) the order be served on the defendant, appointed counsel, the previous attorney of record, if any, and the attorney for the Commonwealth pursuant to Rule 114 (Orders and Court Notices: Filing; Service; and Docket Entries).
An attorney may not represent a defendant in a capital case unless the attorney meets the educational and experiental requirements set forth in Rule 801 (Qualifications for Defense Counsel in Capital Cases).
Under paragraph (B)(2), counsel must file a motion to withdraw in all cases, and counsel’s obligation to represent the defendant, whether as retained or appointed counsel, remains until leave to withdraw is granted by the court. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Librizzi, 810 A.2d 692 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002). The court must make a determination of the status of a case before permitting counsel to withdraw. Although there are many factors considered by the court in determining whether there is good cause to permit the withdrawal of counsel, when granting leave, the court should determine whether new counsel will be stepping in or the defendant is proceeding without counsel, and that the change in attorneys will not delay the proceedings or prejudice the defendant, particularly concerning time limits. In addition, case law suggests other factors the court should consider, such as whether
(1) the defendant has failed to meet his or her financial obligations to pay for the attorney’s services and
(2) there is a written contractual agreement between counsel and the defendant terminating representation at a specified stage in the proceedings such as sentencing.
See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Roman. Appeal of Zaiser, 549 A.2d 1320 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1988).
If a post-sentence motion is filed, trial counsel would normally be expected to stay in the case until disposition of the motion under the post-sentence procedures adopted in 1993. See Rules 704 and 720. Traditionally, trial counsel stayed in a case through post-verdict motions and sentencing.
For the filing and service procedures, see Rules 575-576.
For waiver of counsel, see Rule 121.
For the procedures for appointment of counsel, see Rule 122.
See Rule 904(A) that requires an attorney who has been retained to represent a defendant during post-conviction collateral proceedings to file a written entry of appearance.