A lot of people today are seeking to represent themselves on their own accord in court rather than relying on a lawyer. Several online polls, surveys of prosecutors, and fieldworks at court report that there is a massive increase in the number of unrepresented defendants in magistrate courts. According to a survey done in 2014, a quarter of the defendants were fighting their criminal charges without the presence of a lawyer.
It is true that a case like that of Isaac Wright Jr. might encourage a lot of you to find your own case and be your own hero. But the story is not as Rocky-esque as you might think it was. Isaac Wright Jr. had to go through a lot to win his freedom when he was wrongfully convicted as being the mastermind behind one of the biggest drug distribution networks in New Jersey. After he was sentenced to life plus 72 years in prison, he used that time to study law and then become a paralegal.
He designed the legal strategy and came up with the defense pro se brief as a response to the kingpin jury instructions in State v. Alexander, 136 N.J. 563 (1994). He was able to expose the gross corruption crimes committed by the court that had convicted him, the police force, and also the prosecutor’s office. He was then able to get rid of his life sentence after he was successful in getting one of the corrupt cops to confess to his crimes. He then went on to win cases for his inmates, and then after his case was cleared, Wright pursued law as a career.
But it took a lot of practice and the planning on Wright’s part to get to his freedom. Here are some of the tips that you can use to achieve Wright’s level of success:
Understand the law
Sure your first bet might be to purchase the pricey books and courses on the subject matter, but frankly if you are looking to fight your own case you do not have that type of money. What you should rather do is head to the library, government web sites on law, or a Citizens Advice counter, to get the help you need. In the magistrate’s court, you will have to rely on the Stone’s Justices’ Manual, and in the crown court, you will have to look up Archbold and Blackstone Criminal Practice. The type of books, manuals or treatises you may need will vary from country to country but the as long as you know the area of law you are looking to study, they should be pretty easy to find.
Practice the lingo
20% of your success depends on you knowing the right language. As a litigant in person, you are bound to annoy others by not having sufficient information. But you can become the exception very easily. Address the people in the court with the right terminology, and you will cast a more professional image in the courtroom. The Black’s law dictionary can help you in this respect.
Always demand proof
When in court act politely and be patient. However, whenever there is a case being made against you, always make sure to look into the records or some sort of proof. Remember that a lack of information on something is as crucial as the information itself. People at the crime scene who weren’t questioned, phone records, photographs, receipts, etc. are all crucial pieces of evidence that you must not ignore.