Monday, February 11, 2008

Idle threat of the week

Among the vast population of legal practitioners one can find a lawyer to defend the most heinous crime and litigate the most trivial complaint.

Which is why it takes a pretty unique individual to go outside the legal community and represent themselves "pro se" in a court of law.

The two most prominent recent examples of pro se are Colin Ferguson and Jim Traficant. Ferguson, whose racially-tinged killing of six on the Long Island Railroad was somewhat overshadowed by the OJ Simpson trial taking place simultaneously on the West Coast, jettisoned his high-profile lawyers because they wouldn't go along with a defense strategy which draw largely from numerology. Ferguson then acted as his own lawyer and said a lot of wild things, many involving numbers. He is now serving six consecutive life sentences.

Traficant, the flamboyant Ohio congressman, had more luck with his first pro se defense -- becoming in 1983 the only person ever to win a RICO case while acting on his own behalf. His luck ran out in 2002 when he was slapped with an eight-year sentence for racketeering after a trial marked by Traficant's hostile behavior towards the judge, the prosecutors and the witnesses. Traficant's -- who was not legally trained --motivation for twice acting as his own consular probably stemmed from his belief in himself as a really convincing guy. And there was something to this assessment as, running from a cell in federal prison after his conviction, the popular Traficant was still able to garner 15 percent vote in the 2002 congressional election.

Why Heather Mills has now decided to represent herself in her divorcee proceedings against Sir Paul McCartney is more of a mystery. Judging by her disastrous Q score Mills can't possibly think she makes a good impression and, by embracing the crazy, she only makes the job of McCartney's lawyers -- who aim to paint her as such -- that much easier. Yet she will now be the one dramatically cross-examining her ex-Beatle ex-husband.

And this ridiculous legal strategy is rewarded the Idle Threat of the Week for February 4th through 10th. Having already besmirched the reputation of gold diggers everywhere, Mills's latest move suggests she aims to do the same for delusional kooks.

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