Monthly Archives: February 2015

PRO-SE DEFENDANTS AT TRIAL: Everything that Judges (and attorneys) Need to Know (15-03)

pro se lincoln quotePro Se Defendants: All judges eventually find themselves confronted with a defendant who requests or demands the right to represent himself/herself at trial.

This could occur for a number of reasons; perhaps defendant holds strong anti-government beliefs (i.e. Posse Comitatus), defendant fails or refuses to retain private counsel after the court has denied a request for the public defender, or defendant is simply overconfident and believes he/she doesn’t need an attorney.

Although defendants have a constitutional right to represent themselves at trial, exercising that right creates a host of constitutional and procedural pitfalls that judges must be prepared to overcome. This update will address the following 6 key topics:

❶ Three General Principles That Always Apply;

❷ Applying the Correct Legal Analysis & Making Two Specific Findings;

❸ Appointment of Standby Counsel – Ten Facts You Need to Know;

❹ Two Additional Ways a Defendant Can Waive the Right to Counsel;

❺ What if Defendant is Mentally Ill?

❻ Judge’s Authority to Regulate the Trial with a Pro Se Defendant.


PendletonUpdate 15-03