According to the Sixth Amendment, in addition to guaranteeing the right to retained or appointed counsel, a defendant is guaranteed the right to represent himself in court. Though in most cases, it is highly recommended that you obtain legal counsel, there may be extenuating circumstances or personal reasons for you choosing not to do so.
If you are planning to represent yourself in court, there are a few things to keep in mind before stepping up to the plate. These tips may not help you convince a Judge to give you a break, but they definitely won’t hurt .
1. Dress to Impress– imagine that you are attending an important job interview and you want to make a positive impression
2. History Counts– bring a copy of your driving record ( pick it up at any MVA or MVA Express)
3. KISS- Keep it Simple S****– prepare what you plan to say before you arrive. Keep your defense concise and factual. It is acceptable to write things out on a sheet of paper so that you can read it to the Judge. This not only helps the Court understand your message but it will prevent you from forgetting a key point
4. Practice Makes Perfect– Have a “dry run”. Get a friend to be your Judge Judy and rehearse your remarks.
5. Don’t Try to Be Tom Cruise– Remember ” A Few Good Men”. Tom’s cross examination of Jack Nicholson was masterful but that was a script. Be careful in asking questions of a police officer who has probably testified thousands of times. A lawyer’s Rule of Thumb- never ask a question of a witness unless you know the answer.
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