Councilman to Represent Himself in Court
Eric Mays, a City Councilman, has chosen to represent himself in a Flint drunk driving case that started a few days ago on Tuesday, May 20th, in the 68th District Court. The charges against him include operating a vehicle while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, no proof of insurance, failure to report an accident and refusal to be fingerprinted.
The multiple misdemeanor charges all stem from an incident that occurred last year in November, when someone reported to police that Mays was driving drunk the wrong way down I-475 on four flat tires. Police found Mays just a few minutes later attempting to change a tire on a car with four flats.
However, representing yourself in court can be a disastrous decision for anyone not schooled and experienced in the law. When Mays declined an offer from attorney Nicholas Robinson to represent him in court, Judge Nathaniel C. Perry told him, “You are your own worst enemy! You don’t know what you’re doing!”
After Jury selection a week ago, the Judge ordered everyone to be in court the next day at 9:30 am in order to start hearing testimony. However, it was not a standard day in court for anyone. At one point the Judge warned Mays that he was “backing his way into contempt charges” and on several occasions he was warned to “stop the soap-boxing” when Mays refused to answer questions directly and instead began a tirade of his own. “You misunderstand the whole idea of court rules.” the Judge told him, “If you need help you should probably should ask for it.”
According to court records, Mays made several references during jury interviews to people who are willing to “put stuff in your drinks” and “cut tires”. He also asked confusing questions of the jurors and potential jurors on a number of occasions, all of whom told him they didn’t understand his questions.
Flint attorney Frank Manley initially filed an appearance to represent Mays in the case but withdrew that representation late last month. Nicholas Robinson, the attorney who offered to represent Mays on the first day in court, works at the Manley Firm as well. However, Mays stated that he didn’t need help from any attorneys, having “watched a lot of TV” about court cases, and so he felt prepared.
Mays stated during the proceedings that officials inside Flint City Hall have been engaged in a “grand conspiracy” to remove him from office since his election in 2013. The Judge was having none of it, stating that the case was “about whether or not you drank and drove. It’s not about a conspiracy against you!”
There is a well known adage that states “an attorney that represents himself in court has a fool for a client”. While it may sound harsh, there is a lot of truth behind it. The criminal justice system is incredibly complex and, for those who have not devoted their lives to practicing it, can be extremely confusing and difficult to understand.
While the law says that everyone has a right to represent themselves in court if they choose to, it is an ill-advised choice for most people. In the same way that you wouldn’t try to perform a heart transplant or spinal fusion surgery on yourself, you shouldn’t try to navigate the complexities of the legal system on your own.
At The Kronzek Firm, we have represented thousands of people against drunk driving charges all over the state of Michigan. If you are facing drunk driving or drugged driving charges, contact us immediately. We will provide you with the comprehensive and professional representation that you need.