I entered the Mobile County Courthouse this morning, as I do several times a week, prepared to represent my clients in a variety of hearings. While waiting for an officer to arrive in one of my cases, I was approached by a young lady with a misdemeanor charge set for court that same morning. She stated that she did not have an attorney and that she had a quick question about how to phrase something to the court. After I had provided her with the correct terminology, I told her that she actually had a more complicated matter her on her hands than perhaps she thought. The young lady politely informed me that she was not interested in hiring an attorney because she had not done anything wrong, and she was prepared to tell the court her side of the story.

The young lady’s case was called before the officer in my case arrived to court. I watched as she struggled to communicate her side of the story to the judge while adhering to the rules of the court, with which she had no formal training or experience. I then watched as she was led to the holding cell in handcuffs. The look upon her face was one of grief and confusion.

After several years of practicing law, I have watched this scene play out before, but it always pains me to watch people attempt to handle something as complex as a criminal case themselves. I would not attempt to diagnose and self-medicate because I am not a doctor. I would not attempt to roof my home because it would most surely leak. Trying to handle your own legal matter without the assistance of an attorney is always a poor decision, and the consequences can be devastating.

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