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July 10, 2009

Pro Se

It's tempting to act as your own lawyer, to argue your own cause. Who better to defend your position than you? This week, stories of pro se defenses: Some brilliant, some disastrous. A man fakes his way into an insane asylum by pretending to be crazy, and then can't argue his way back out. And another man uses vigilante justice to defend his sister's honor, using a strategy he didn't know he had in him.
Broadmoor Hospital image from the BBC.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes the scene at a courthouse resource center in lower Manhattan where people learn how to represent themselves in civil court. Attorney Ruth Sharfman, who assists at the center, tells Ira that some of the pro se litigants are more prepared for the job than others. (4 minutes)
Act One

Psycho Dabble

From London, TAL contributor Jon Ronson tells the story of a man who has spent more than a decade trying to convince doctors that he's not mentally ill. But the more he argues his case, the less they believe him. (25 minutes)
Act Two

Disorder In The Court

Earlier this year, admitted drug user Jorge Cruz decided to act as his own lawyer in an Albany, New York criminal court. Impossibly, he won. Ira talks to Francisco Calderon, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, about what it feels like to lose to an amateur. (10 minutes)
Act Three

Swak Down

Jeff Simmermon tells a story from his days as a student teacher, about a time when he decided to forgo all the rules, and administer frontier justice on the fly. This story was recorded in front of an audience at the Moth storytelling series. Jeff tells other stories on his blog AndIAmNotLying.com (9 minutes)

Song:

“Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford
Act Four

Underling Gets An Underling

Stef Willen tells Ira about a time that she took matters into her own hands, even though she was only a lowly production assistant on a reality show. (7 minutes)