September 24, 2003

A Real “Philadelphia Lawyer.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:58 pm

There are few things more frustrating than dealing with a pro se litigant (a person who represents himself in court). It often turns into a situation where all the procedural rules and rules of evidence apply to the state and the prosecutor, but the pro se defendant is cut enormous amounts of slack by the judge. And, the prosecutor often comes off looking like the bad-guy bully trying to beat up on the sorry ass who has decided to defend himself, thereby evoking sympathy for the defendant from the jury.

This sounds like a classic example.

Between June and August, high school dropout Jonathan Harris, 34, acted as his own lawyer in three Philadelphia felony cases and won them all, including a murder trial that could have sent him to death row. At press time, he had scheduled two more for himself, on a 2001 gun charge and at a new trial on several lesser charges related to the murder (although he had taunted a prosecutor in court about taking him on again). The prosecutor blamed the murder verdict on unreliable and no-show witnesses.

Then again, maybe this guy ought to be applying to (or teaching at) Harvard Law School.

Note: The story was published in the August 18, 2003 edition of Newsday. The link is no longer available.

Thanks to my friend Russ, a Navy vet and a Harley guy.

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