Some legal jurisdictions permit defendants to act as their own attorneys
during a trial (Pro Se is the legal term). Recent studies have shown that four out of five such defendants in the United States are found guilty. Defendants often act as their own attorneys because they distrust lawyers
or want to use their trials
to make political points. This is a list of prominent cases in which defendants have served or are serving as their own attorneys.
- Horatio Bottomley, on many occasions.
- Ted Bundy acted as his own attorney at his trials for murder in Utah and Florida. He was executed in Florida in 1989.
- Colin Ferguson represented himself at his trial for murder in 1993. He was sentenced to six life terms in prison.
- Dr. Jack Kevorkian defended himself unsuccessfully in Michigan in 1999 of second-degree murder in death of patient with Lou Gehrig's disease.
- Nelson Mandela defended himself, but was sentenced to life in 1964. He was released 27 years later.
- Francisco Mayorga, prosecuted twice for the same cause, defended himself successfully before two juries in Nicaragua both in 2001 and 2003.
- Zacarias Moussaoui defended himself at his trial for conspiring to commit the terrorist attacks on the United States of America. He avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Slobodan Milošević, in front of ICTY, because he dismissed the tribunal as illegitimate. He was forcibly assigned counsel.
- John Allen Muhammad, accused Beltway Sniper, briefly acted as his own attorney, but after just days returned to using lawyers.
- Vojislav Šešelj, in front of ICTY.
- Sam Sloan, self-defended before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- James J. Strang, successfully defended himself against numerous charges, including treason.
- James Traficant Jr., a former U.S. representative from Ohio, defended himself at his trial for 10 counts of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering and was sentenced to serve eight years in prison.
- Ramzi Yousef, believed to be the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center attack.
- Afeni Shakur, accused of taking part in numerous bombings as a member of the Panther 21
Some people who have tried to assert their right to act as their own attorney have not been permitted to do so. These people include: