Self representation gone wrong

By Lawyers Weekly|03 March 2012

Two rather foolish defendants, accused of scamming homeowners for over $3 million, insisted on representing themselves at their trial, despite the judge "practically begging" them to get a…

Two rather foolish defendants, accused of scamming homeowners for over $3 million, insisted on representing themselves at their trial, despite the judge "practically begging" them to get a lawyer.

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According to Lowering the Bar, the two refused to get a lawyer because they "had a plan", but unfortunately for the pair, their plan was to sabotage their own case, filing "meaningless and nonsensical documents" and making bizarre comments.

To get out of their mess, the pair advanced a number of peculiar theories, including the argument that they were "sentient human beings" as distinct from the abstract titles of "defendants".

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Although questions of the pair's sanity immediately come to mind, the trial judge had the defendants evaluated by a doctor who found that neither of them, surprisingly, was suffering from a mental disorder.

After an expected conviction, on appeal the pair argued that the court should not have let them represent themselves because "their own courtroom behaviours rendered their trial unfair".

In response to this ridiculous argument, the court said: "The record clearly shows that the defendants are fools, but that is not the same as being incompetent ... They had the right to represent themselves and go down in flames if they wished, a right the district court was required to respect.

"The two sentient human beings will now have their personal sovereignty infringed for the next 21 and 25 years respectively."

Ouch.

Folklaw gives the defendants points for trying - and for originality - but is fairly sure they will realise the joke is on them, after say, 25 years in jail.

Self representation gone wrong
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