117 Penn St. L. Rev. 707 (2013) Penn State Law Review Online Companion Penn State Law Review

117 Penn St. L. Rev. 707 (2013)

DOES LIVING BY THE SWORD MEAN DYING BY THE SWORD?
Charles Chernor Jalloh

ABSTRACT

This article examines the right to self-representation in international criminal law, and the common challenges posed for judges effectuating that right in international criminal courts.  Using a comparative law approach, the paper demonstrates how the interpretation of that right initially borrowed heavily from U.S. common law and later European civil law to address the problems caused by self-representing, disruptive, and uncooperative defendants.  Although the right to self-representation is a Sixth Amendment right in U.S. law, and an equally fundamental one in international law, the author contends that this right seems better in theory than in practice.  Indeed, since no self-representing defendant in an international penal court has ever succeeded in securing an acquittal, by choosing to represent themselves, defendants who lack the ability, objectivity, and experience needed to raise reasonable doubt in complex criminal trials may unwittingly help pave the prosecution’s way to their own convictions.

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preferred citation: Charles Chernor Jalloh, Does Living by the Sword Mean Dying by the Sword?, 117 Penn St. L. Rev. 707 (2013).

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