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Kudos to victorious pro se murder defendant Harold Stewart

Mar 18, 2008 Kudos to victorious pro se murder defendant Harold Stewart

Photo from website of U.S. District Court (W.D. Mi.).

Congratulations to pro se first degree murder defendant Harold J. Stewart not only for winning his retrial last month in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Circuit Court, but also for doing so with a jury deliberation that lasted less than one hour.  

Warning: Do not represent yourself in a jailable case. In fact, Mr. Stewart first went to trial represented by defense counsel. The case mis-tried when the judge determined that one of the jurors did not speak adequate enough English to sufficiently deliberate. Mr. Stewart later replaced his public defender legal counsel with a private lawyer who urged him to accept a second degree murder guilty plea. Mr. Stewart refused, the private lawyer returned Mr. Stewart’s payment, and the rest is history, with Mr. Stewart defending himself at trial.

Unknown is the extent to which Mr. Stewart won his trial because of any effective self-representation or despite mistakes on his part. Stewart’s is a trial transcript worth obtaining and reviewing to get a non-lawyer’s perspective on obtaining a serious felony jury trial victory.

Mr. Stewart vows to sue a litany of people he says wronged him in this prosecution, including his previous legal counsel. I doubt a qualified lawyer will take the civil case for Mr. Stewart, that is if Mr. Stewart even were to attempt to find one rather than to see if he will be successful on his own with another roll of the dice. Jon Katz

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