TIP: Hard to Argue Ineffective Assistance of Counsel If You Represented Yourself

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I guess it might literally be hard to argue this, if you aren't good at making arguments. But I really meant that it's hard to argue it successfully.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which is what they call their newspaper there, I don't make these names up, a defendant who was convicted last November of twelve felonies argued this week that he should get a new trial because his lawyer was ineffective. This is despite the fact that Christopher Clark had insisted on representing himself.

At first, anyway. On day two he said he wanted his court-appointed attorney to represent him instead, but then at some point "became disruptive" and was removed. After he ended up 0-12 on the felonies (three carjackings, weapons charges, assaulting an officer, and I guess seven others), he moved for a new trial—again representing himself—arguing that he had not been competent to represent himself back when he was doing that the first time. The judge has not yet ruled, and I can barely stand the suspense, but this was in the news today following the prosecution's response to the new-trial motion.

According to the report, the prosecution conceded that Clark has a "mental disease" (which wasn't identified), but argued that it did not prevent him from distinguishing right from wrong or understanding the legal proceedings against him. The brief noted that the judge had repeatedly tried to discourage Clark from representing himself, without success, and argued that he should not get "a second bite at the apple" just because he wouldn't take that good advice. He most likely will not get that bite.

Previously in unsuccessful self-representation tactics: "Inmate Sues Himself for Violating His Civil Rights" (Jan. 29, 2012); "Man Who Stabbed His First Two Lawyers With a Pencil Stabs Another Lawyer With a Pencil" (Nov. 2, 2011); and "Poorly Faked Heart Attack Fails to Result in Mistrial" (July 16, 2008).