Skip to comments.Murder Defendant Found Man to Win Case: Himself - (high school dropout defends himself and wins)
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 washingtonpost.com ...
He’d better move. State’s attorneys don’t like being made to look like the sadistic, power-mad incompetents that they are.
‘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.’
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.
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.
Maybe this DA can go into business with Mike Nifong.
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.
He might have had a fool for a client, but at least he didn’t have an idiot for a lawyer.
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!
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.
Maryland “Freak State” PING!