“A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
I heard that quote early in law school. It is a quote I still believe in strongly today. If a lawyer wouldn’t represent himself/herself, why would anyone? Writer Laura C. Morel of the Tampa Bay Times covered the story of Daniel Richards, a defendant charged for fatally beating his 83-year old mother. In the story, the Judge specifically asked Richards if he wanted to represent himself. Even though a public defender was in the courtroom as a standby, Richards refused her help.
As a lawyer, I could see no downside to using the public defender, even if you wanted to represent yourself. The public defender is knowledgeable about the law and more importantly, courtroom procedure. Richards requested things that a judge could not grant. A judge cannot give legal advice or explain the law.
I understand that there are financial constraints to some people hiring a lawyer, but most criminal defendants and ALL criminal defendants on trial for capital offenses, such as murder, are entitled to a lawyer if they cannot afford one.
I understand many people don’t like lawyers. You may not like a lawyer until you need one. There are ways to make sure you protect your interests when you are facing serious charges. Ask your attorney what their plan is. Tell your attorney what your goals are. Be realistic in your situation. And above all, be honest with your attorney!
For the full article on Richards and other defendants who represented themselves in court, click HERE to read the full article.