The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Some Capitol riot defendants forgo lawyers

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Some of the defendants charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol are turning away defense lawyers and electing to represent themselves, undeterred by their lack of legal training or repeated warnings from judges.

That choice already has led to some curious legal maneuvers and awkward exchanges in court.

A New York man charged in the Jan. 6 insurrecti­on wants to bill the government for working on his own case. A Pennsylvan­ia restaurant owner is trying to defend herself from jail. A judge told another New Yorker that he may have incriminat­ed himself during courtroom arguments.

The right to self-representa­tion is a bedrock principle of the Constituti­on. But a longtime judge cited an old adage in advising a former California police chief that he would have “a fool for a client” if he represente­d himself.

And Michael Magner, a New Orleans criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, observed, “Just because you have a constituti­onal right to do something doesn’t necessaril­y mean that it’s smart.”

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