Will Rangel Risk Representing Himself in His Ethics Trial?

Rep. Charlie Rangel has been clamoring for a House ethics trial to evaluate charges against him, but now that the ethics panel has set the date for Nov. 15, the Harlem Democrat is caught off guard. Rangel has apparently parted ways with his lawyers, for unknown reasons, and is considering representing himself on 13 counts of ethics violations.

This would be a risky move. Rangel has become emotional when defending himself against the committee's charges before--most notably in a floor speech in August that slammed Democrats, Republicans, and even his own legal team--and could potentially turn his trial into a post-election spectacle. And the practice of pro se representation, forgoing a lawyer to represent oneself in court, is almost always recommended against. It is very rare that someone without a legal degree is able to mount a defense equivalent to that of trained attorneys.

Rangel, however, went to law school and worked as a lawyer for a few years before entering politics. There are also a few advantages that come with representing oneself, most notably that judges tend to be more lenient, allowing pro se litigants to get more information on the record than trained attorneys might be able to. In some cases, self-representation can also be a means of running out the clock.

Below, notable pro se litigants who saw varying degrees of success. Will Rangel add his name to the list?
    

Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Politics

Just In