Self Representation June 2019
Two situations developed in the courtroom on Monday. I was there as an observer. When I do that, I always find it interesting.
The fellow named Simmons, who had a public defender, was complaining to the judge about how inconvenient it was to have a device attached to his car that monitored whether he had consumed alcohol prior to driving. His contention was that the device shut the car down on the freeway and risked a crash as he put it, “with my kids in the car.” He decided to speak for himself instead of letting his public defender do the work. The judge told him that indeed his conduct had risked the lives of children, many children, and many adults. In very specific and loud terms the judge re-explained why the man had to use this device having risked the lives of other people’s children.
A woman named Trang was petitioning the court to get a public defender. This is a free service for those who cannot afford an attorney of their own. She was well dressed and the judge told her that she didn’t qualify because of her assets and income which she had indicated on the application. She then changed what she had written. After observing this change in her “truth,” the judge told her she still didn’t qualify. He then informed her that she could represent herself or hire an attorney. Based on what had just happened he suggested she employ a counselor. She said that she would self represent. The judge had the bailiff give her a sheet of paper explaining the risk of doing that.
I would love to see that sheet of paper. When see only from our perspective on an issue, we do not understand completely the way that the court is going to look at that situation. Our defender understands both. It is quite easy for us to think that we are completely innocent when in fact we may be guilty in the court’s eyes.
Reading the Bible and its stories helps us to understand how God would like us to live and what removing ourselves from that guidance can cause. Incredibly, beyond that, He has seen what our self representation will lead to. Enter the Son who is our Defender. We didn’t qualify for Him to represent us and we certainly couldn’t afford His hourly rate if He offered one. He did it because He loves us. Our Defender explains our guilt but then goes ahead and presents our case in the only way that the court can forgive us. He offers a complete exoneration in exchange for a plea deal of “guilty as charged” and then pays our fine for us. Thank you Jesus!