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Murder Defendant Found Man to Win Case: Himself - (high school dropout defends himself and wins)
The Washington Post ^ | March 17, 2008 | Ruben Castaneda

Posted on 03/17/2008 7:02:04 PM PDT by RDTF

It's an axiom known by every lawyer and judge in every courthouse in the land: A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.

Try telling that to Harold J. Stewart.

Last month, Stewart, a 42-year-old high school dropout, defended himself in a murder case in Prince George's County, where he was accused of beating a sleeping man to death with a baseball bat.

The trial lasted three days. Stewart called no witnesses. The jury deliberated less than an hour.

The verdict: Not guilty of first-degree murder. Not guilty of second-degree murder.

"Everybody told me I was crazy to represent myself," Stewart said in an interview. "I had no choice. They were obstructing my rights."

The obstructionists, in Stewart's view, included county prosecutors, the trial judge, the assistant public defender who represented him at his first trial (which ended in a mistrial), the private defense lawyer who represented him between the two trials, jail officials he says unfairly denied him access to the law library and the state Attorney Grievance Commission.

Victories such as Stewart's are exceedingly rare. Veteran attorneys in suburban Maryland and the District said they had never heard of a pro se defendant -- a term that draws on the Latin phrase meaning "on one's own behalf" -- winning an acquittal in a murder case.

"Oh, wow," Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said when told of the case. McCarthy said he was not aware of a pro se defendant in Montgomery winning an acquittal in a serious felony in his 27 years as a prosecutor there.

"We certainly have had pro se defendants win trials on charges like drunk driving or disorderly conduct," McCarthy said. "It's the kind of thing your colleagues generally tease you about."


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: afoolforaclient; armedcitizen; banglist; haroldjstewart; montgomerycounty; pgcounty; princegeorgescounty

1 posted on 03/17/2008 7:02:05 PM PDT by RDTF
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He’d better move. State’s attorneys don’t like being made to look like the sadistic, power-mad incompetents that they are.

2 posted on 03/17/2008 7:05:05 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (A moderate Muslim is one who acts like a Christian.)
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‘The case went to the jury, but not for long. A little more than an hour into deliberations, the foreman told the judge that one of the jurors might not speak English well enough to have understood the jury instructions, Callis and Longwell said.

Judge Melanie M. Shaw Geter spoke to the juror, a woman of Asian descent who spoke conversational English, and decided the foreman’s concerns were well founded. Shaw Geter declared a mistrial.’


3 posted on 03/17/2008 7:07:03 PM PDT by BGHater ($2300 is the limit of your Free Speech.)
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To: the invisib1e hand
State’s attorneys don’t like being made to look like the sadistic, power-mad incompetents that they are.

True. The laws are set up to make them nearly untouchable and you know what they say about absolute power.
4 posted on 03/17/2008 7:11:21 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Voting CONSERVATIVE in memory of 5 children killed by illegals 2/17/08 and 2/19/ 08)
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5 posted on 03/17/2008 7:13:12 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: traviskicks


6 posted on 03/17/2008 7:14:27 PM PDT by KoRn (CTHULHU '08 - I won't settle for a lesser evil any longer!)
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My Nephew is head of the forensics section of a state police force. He is a commssioned Police Officer as well and testifies regularly in trials.

We were discussing lawyers and he mentioned the best lawyer he went up against was not a lawyer at all. A kid was represented by his grandfather and he got him off.

7 posted on 03/17/2008 7:17:47 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: KoRn; Abathar; Abcdefg; Abram; Abundy; akatel; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Alexander Rubin; ...

Libertarian ping! To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here.
8 posted on 03/17/2008 7:19:11 PM PDT by traviskicks (
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This seems to be an ideal thread to post the first reference to my pro-lawyer column for this week. Yep, pro-lawyer. Who'd a thunk it?

Congressman Billybob

Latest article, "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money...."

Help a Freeper into Congress.

9 posted on 03/17/2008 7:45:08 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (
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If you get in trouble and cannot afford "real" counsel, i.e., a personal lawyer, you might as well pack you bags and bring your tooth brush with you, cuz, your going to the hoosegow.

Not all, but probably 90% or better of Public Pretenders work hand and glove with the State/Feds and the only thing they are good for are making deals, and if one is lucky and the charge is not serious, the defendant can look forward to a felony on his record for life and probation; if the offense is more serious, it's "see yah, wouldn't want to be yah!."

Based upon several people I know who had somewhat personal experiences.

10 posted on 03/17/2008 7:46:18 PM PDT by Conservative Vermont Vet (One of ONLY 37 Conservatives in the People's Republic of Vermont. Socialists and Progressives All)
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To: cripplecreek

Maybe this DA can go into business with Mike Nifong.

11 posted on 03/17/2008 7:51:04 PM PDT by Vigilanteman ((Are there any men left in Washington? Or are there only cowards? Ahmad Shah Massoud))
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To: the invisib1e hand

I know my hometown in Indiana, the cops loved to give traffic tickets especially to the younger kids. If you happened to fight a traffic charge and won, you are guaranteed to get another ticket within several months and that next ticket will be for a more serious charge than the one you originally defeated. That next ticket will be worth more license points as well.

12 posted on 03/17/2008 7:51:51 PM PDT by CORedneck
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He might have had a fool for a client, but at least he didn’t have an idiot for a lawyer.

13 posted on 03/17/2008 9:04:29 PM PDT by appeal2 (r)
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Yeah, nice to pick on prosecutors and other attorneys. But it looks as if this guy probably got away with murder. Caused enough chaos by not using a lawyer that it gave not-too-bright jurors a headache. They just wanted to go home. Ban bats!

14 posted on 03/17/2008 10:10:58 PM PDT by Godwin1
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To: Godwin1

Looks that way. Although the timeline discrepancy is enough of an issue that the prosecution should have some kind of explanation. The paramedics were incompetent? The lead witness’s watch was broken?

If the prosecution was hoping that point would slide by without an explanation, they didn’t do a good job. If I was on the jury, I would be wondering what the story was.

Of course, it’s possible the prosecution did provide an explanation and the reporter didn’t mention it.

15 posted on 03/17/2008 11:06:20 PM PDT by Our man in washington
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To: RDTF; Abundy; Albion Wilde; AlwaysFree; AnnaSASsyFR; bayliving; BFM; cindy-true-supporter; ...

Maryland “Freak State” PING!

16 posted on 03/18/2008 1:31:51 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Cloverfield 2008! Why vote for a lesser monster?)
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