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An advisory counsel means a lawyer or attorney whose duty is to give advice on a particular matter in a lawsuit. An advisory counsel serves as a resource available to assist the defendant with legal and procedural matters and to call the trial court's attention to matters favorable to the defendant. Ordinarily a pro se defendant has no constitutional right to advisory counsel. But, a trial court may permit a defendant with the assistance of some type of advisory counsel. However, an advisory counsel may assist a pro se defendant only if and when the defendant requests such assistance. An advisory counsel is distinct from an attorney who actively participates in conducting a case.
In State v. Jones, 2009 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1232 (Minn. Ct. App. Unpub. 2009), the court observed that “The role of advisory counsel is fundamentally different from the role of counsel generally. Advisory counsel steers a defendant through the basic procedures of the trial and relieves a judge of the need to explain and enforce basic rules of the courtroom. Advisory-counsel appointments are justified in order to ensure fairness in the criminal-justice process, promote judicial efficiency, and preserve the appearance of judicial impartiality. Although Minnesota courts have encouraged the use of advisory counsel for these reasons, a defendant is only entitled to a fair trial, not an error-free one.”