Daily Archives: February 14, 2008

Silly wabbit, trials are for lawyers!

trix.jpgI’ll spare you the “a person who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer” line, but someone probably should have told Daniel Riles that. After vowing to take on the legal community by himself (whatever that means), he proceeded to represent himself at trial. Not to be outdone by the twinkie defense, he decided to invoke jurors’ emotions by comparing himself to the New York Football Giants and the State as the Patriots. The trial was in Bridgeport, so he had a good shot at getting Giants fans. Didn’t work, though, as the jury convicted him of attempted bank robbery.

That’s a pretty serious charge, isn’t it? So what would possess a man to do something like this? The following might give a clue:

Riles said that he has taken on a number of cases for individuals at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.

Ah, now it all makes sense. He’s a jailhouse lawyer. I’m pretty sure those individuals are now writing to the Court asking to get their public defender back. [As Scott reminds me, he might just be trying to disprove the Dunning-Kruger effect. More on this here.]

Jailhouse lawyers are a good thing, to an extent. They help other clueless inmates file petitions, write motions and keep their legal affairs in some semblance of an order. It’s a business, a commodity in prison, and those that can do it passably should. But not when it comes to a trial. Certainly not a criminal trial where you’re facing a lot of time.

I wonder what the waiver canvass was like and if the judge had felt any pangs of doubt when this happened:

He started by asking prospective jurors what they thought of bank robberies. All said they do not support them. “Well, how about attempted bank robberies?” he asked.

Yikes. Mr. Riles, please let a public defender represent you on appeal.