John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Ex-Prosecutor Tries to Represent Himself; Loses Big

Ex-Prosecutor Tries to Represent Himself; Loses Big

In yet another example that anyone who represents themselves has a fool for a client, a NJ jury has convicted a former prosecutor who decided he would represent himself.  Note, this appears to be an experienced veteran of both the state and federal system.  He knows the rules.  He knows his way around a courtroom.  However, to the jurors it was obvious that he should have stayed at the table quietly while his attorney did the work: 

As he himself questioned witnesses at his federal trial in Newark, N.J., attorney Paul Bergrin couldn't help but reveal more of his personality than would ordinarily have come to the jury's attention, juror Tad Hershorn, an archivist for the Institute of Jazz Studies, told the Star-Ledger.

"The risk is that you show character," he explained to the newspaper, adding: "As smart as he is and he thinks he is, you cannot totally disguise who you are."

A defense lawyer handling the trial also would have helped prevent witnesses saying to Bergrin, essentially: " ‘No, Paul, this is what you did to me; this is what you said to me,’ " Hershorn noted.

Hershorn said the accumulated evidence of Bergrin's criminal activity mounted during the eight-week trial, showing a pattern of criminal activity that supported his conviction.

He should have known better.  Don't make the same mistake.  The last time I went to traffic court, I had a lawyer.  While most people won't go that far, any offense that can result in jail time should involve a retained attorney of your choosing.  Don't try it pro se or even with a public defender.

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