Self-representation is Risky...and for Good Reason | Speaker Law
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Self-representation is Risky...and for Good Reason

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

You surely are familiar with the adage, "the man who represents himself has a fool for a client." This phrase took on special meaning in the Court of Appeals decision People v Cochrane, in which the Court determined that the trial court did not err in refusing to allow a criminal defendant to represent himself. As many attorneys know, the self-represented party does not only face the hurdle of not being educated in the law and court procedures; the even bigger hurdle is that the self-represented party cannot view his case objectively, and is clouded by his emotions.


In Cochrane, the defendant asked to represent himself many times, including with multiple letters and motions to the trial court, the contents of which were described by the Court of Appeals as "simply ridiculous." Indeed, the trial court denied his motions because the self-representation would "disrupt, unduly inconvenience, and burden the court and the administration of the court's business" (one of the bases for denying a defendant his constitutional right to self-representation). The defendant went through four appointed attorneys, and "fired" attorneys who refused to succumb to his demands to raise motions in the trial court. During trial, the defendant continually interrupted the court by "rambling on about anything and everything" and even spit at his appointed attorney. It is not hard to imagine that Defendant lost credibility with the courts due to his conduct.

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