The Baltimore Sun recently had an article on a new empirical study about decisions by counseled criminal defendants to proceed pro se. From the Sun:
Self-representation is a legal strategy many lawyers decry, saying that the old adage – a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client – got it right. But some legal observers take a different view, suggesting defendants might have legitimate reasons for acting as their own lawyers and that such a defense sometimes leads to favorable outcomes.
Erica Hashimoto, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently set out to determine whether empirical data supported the assumption most lawyers make: that pro se defendants, as they are technically called, are “either mentally ill or stupid.”
In the study, which is scheduled to be published in the North Carolina Law Review, Hashimoto found that pro se felony defendants in state courts were as likely as defendants with counsel to win complete acquittal. In addition, they were more likely to be convicted of lesser offenses – misdemeanors rather than felonies, according to Hashimoto’s review of data, a sample from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data that covers the country’s 75 largest counties in the even years between 1990 and 1998.
Erica’s very interesting article has now been posted on SSRN. You can download a draft here: Defending the Right to Self Representation: An Empirical Look at the Pro Se Felony Defendant.