- At least five Capitol riot defendants are representing themselves, despite no legal training.
- One New York man who is defending himself admitted to two new felonies while testifying last week.
- Judges have offered warnings to those requesting to represent themselves about possible consequences.
Several Capitol riot defendants are betting on themselves as they head to trial, despite a lack of legal expertise and warnings from judges, both implicit and explicit.
At least five people charged in relation to the January 6 Capitol attack have waived their right to a formally-trained attorney in favor of defending themselves, according to The Associated Press.
- Alan Hostetter charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, knowingly engaged in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
- Brandon Fellows charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, violent entry or disorderly conduct
- Pauline Bauer charged with obstruction of justice/Congress, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, knowingly engaged in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
- Eric Bochene charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, violent entry or disorderly conduct
- Brian Christopher Mock charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, acts of physical violence in any of the Capitol buildings or grounds
Just last week, US District Judge Royce Lamberth advised former California police chief Alan Hostetter that he had never before seen someone successfully represent him or herself since he was appointed to the bench in 1987. Lamberth approved Hostetter’s request to represent himself, but warned that those who do so have “a fool for a client.”
The choice to represent oneself is a Constitutional right, and the judge’s warning did not stop Hostetter, or others who received similar judicial guidance, from going it alone in their legal defense.
One Capitol riot defendant made a massive blunder while representing himself in court earlier this month. Brandon Fellows, a New York man facing a litany of charges stemming from the Capitol riot, not only failed to win his release in a recent bond hearing, but also likely admitted to two new felonies in the process of defending himself, a federal judge said last week.
Ahead of the hearing, US District Judge Trevor McFadden issued Fellows a warning similar to the one Hostetter received, but Fellows told the court he had spent two weeks studying in DC Jail’s law library and felt confident in his approach.
Fellows took the stand during the hearing and admitted to climbing into the Capitol through a broken window without permission from authorities, as well as previously using a judge’s wife’s phone number to get a new judge in a past case.
Hostetter, meanwhile, told the court he wanted the chance to represent himself in order to expose what he believes is far-reaching “corruption” within the FBI investigation into the Capitol attack.
Pauline Bauer of Pennsylvania has also opted to represent herself. Judge McFadden jailed the restaurant owner, who is accused of threatening to hang House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and who made headlines earlier this year for mounting an unusual defense against the Capitol riot charges, claiming she was “divinely immune” from the court’s laws.
In a July hearing, Bauer demanded the removal of “any and all” defense attorneys on her behalf, arguing that she didn’t want “any lawyering from the bench.”
In perhaps the most brazen move by a self-represented defendant yet, Eric Bochene of New York submitted a “fee schedule,” in which he attempted to collect payment from the court for working on his own case, The AP reported.
Bochene wanted to charge up to $US250,000 ($AU336,973) for up to two hours in court if he is feeling under “duress,” and $US50,000 ($AU67,395) for showing up voluntarily, the outlet reported. Should the court force him to give any bodily fluids, Bochene attempted to demand a payment of $US5 ($AU7) million under the billing schedule.
US District Judge Randolph Moss, who ruled last month that Bochene could represent himself, denied the defendant’s request for payment, according to The AP.
Brian Christopher Mock, a Minnesota man, is the fifth defendant to begin representing himself last month, the outlet reported. Court records allege that Mock bragged about assaulting police officers at the Capitol following the insurrection.