Legal Representation: By Someone Who is NOT a Lawyer

In the United States, in all of its sovereign states, only a duly certified and registered lawyer or the defendant his or her self can represent the defendant in a court of law.  Courts can and will ask an unknown lawyer for his or her credentials as proof that this lawyer can practice law in this court.  Anyone who is caught passing his or her self as a lawyer will be penalized for the effort.  How badly is not the point.  However, it is very well known that anyone can represent themselves in a court of law.  It goes with the saying that anyone who defends himself in court has a fool as a client.  What is allowed to a person who wants to represent his or her self is someone who can assist the defendant but not act in the place of the defendant as does a lawyer.  This quiet assistant is known as a McKenzie friend.  In many jurisdictions a person who would be a McKenzie friend to the defendant must register themselves for the record.  In many different areas of law there are courses that help an enthusiast learning how to be a McKenzie friend in that area of law.  The case that originated the “McKenzie Friend” occurred in merry England in the 1970s.  In a divorce case one of the spouses, named McKenzie, could not afford a lawyer but his solicitor presented a legal assistant to help.  The court ruled that the assistant must sit in the gallery and could only assist during adjournment.  The assistant was not able to help this way and left the next day.  This particular McKenzie appealed the case result due to not being allowed to have legal representation.  The appeals court agreed.  So, now in the US anyone who defends him or her own self can have a legal assistant in the gallery assist at any point in the proceedings but not allowed to stand up in front of the court.  This assistance also cannot unduly slow down the proceedings in its executions.

So, to a friend or family member who wants to assist a defendant who is going to represent him or her own self can legally do so.

Now, See this set up scenario, real time.

A friend recently got arrested and charged with DUI, careless driving, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, leaving the scene of an accident, and criminal negligence.  Another friend was pre-law in his college before he quit and so accused wants the pre-law friend to represent the accused because the accused does not want a public defender.  The pre-law friend is thought to be very intelligent and believes that he can handle the situation.  The concern is that the pre-law friend cannot represent the accused like a lawyer without being admitted to the bar.  (Very correct.)  How does the pre-law friend help the accused in his own defense?  Given what the accused is facing, is does not seem reasonable to try to defend one’s self, much less have a pre-law who knows what to be an assistant.  A really good (even if expensive) lawyer seems to be the only good choice here.

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