Representing yourself and acting like you're crazy isn't a defense

Two mortgage refinance con-artists tried to get out of jail by representing themselves in court, then acting like total idiots, and finally appealing on the grounds that they were bad lawyers for themselves. The court wasn't amused: "The record clearly shows that the defendants are fools, but that is not the same as being incompetent. . . . [T]hey had the right to represent themselves and go down in flames if they wished, a right the district court was required to respect."

According to the court, the two set out to sabotage their own case, filing "meaningless and nonsensical documents," wearing prison garb in front of the jury, and making bizarre comments such as asking the jury to "enter a guilty plea for us." The defendants also advanced a "peculiar theory" that "they were 'sentient human beings' distinct from the abstract titles 'Defendants KURT F. JOHNSON AND DALE SCOTT HEINEMAN' as they were referred to in the indictment and court documents." That sounds a lot like the thoroughly dumb "personal sovereignty" arguments that we have seen before, and although you have to wonder whether people making these arguments are not entirely in touch with reality, the trial judge had these guys were evaluated by a doctor who found neither one was suffering from a mental disorder. But on appeal – after an unsurprising conviction – they argued that the district court should not have let them represent themselves, as they had demanded, because "their own courtroom behavior rendered their trial unfair."

Fools Convicted

(Image: Sad clown, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 42dreams's photostream)