Jan 7th 2009 By Tom O'Keefe
In Asylum's eternal quest to bring our readers the straight dope, we connected with legal expert and funny guy Tom O'Keefe to answer your burning legal questions.
Q: What do I need to do to serve as my own attorney?
A: The things you must do to serve as your attorney vary widely depending on whether the issue is civil or criminal in nature. Within each of these legal hemispheres (Hey, I think I just made that up!) there are so many laws, procedures, loopholes and issues that you'd need to, I don't know, attend law school
to gain even the most cursory understanding of what must be done, let alone master those things.
But we don't have time for that. You want quick answers, and I, dear reader, shall comply: No matter what the issue is, if you choose to serve as your own attorney, the first thing you MUST do is call 1-800-843-7274, better known as 1-800-THERAPIST, and get your head examined.Yeah, but what if I really want to serve as my own attorney?
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An old courtroom adage says: "The person who represents himself has a fool for a client." Can it be done? Sure. Many resources claim to show laypersons how to represent themselves in court. I can also go online and learn how to build a hydrogen fuel cell car. I will not attempt to build such a car, however, because I have no desire to blow myself up.
When you need an attorney, chances are the stakes are very high, and the consequences severe. Don't try to do it yourself. Just hire a professional. Are they expensive? Yes. Aren't a lot of them douchebags? More than you know. But they ARE professionals -- meaning not only are they trained to do but the job and are governed by a code of ethics, but you also have the opportunity to sue them if they screw your case up. You can't say the same about yourself now, can you?Got any burning legal questions you want answered? Don't be shy, send us a brief. All names will be changed to protect the innocent.