American Judges Association



Bonnie Sudderth

Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 38:4 (2002), pp. 3. Copyright © 2002 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at


Zeal and tunnel vision replace the cool detachment that law school instills. Just as a doctor should never self-diagnose, a lawyer, too, should not self-represent. This point was never driven home more for me than when, at the end of a lengthy jury trial of a boring commercial dispute involving a self-represented attorney, a juror asked me, “Does he beat his wife?” Not only had the attorney done a poor job in representing himself (he lost), but his over-passionate arguments and extreme positions left the jurors with the distinct impression that he was emotionally unstable, perhaps even dangerous.

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