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Right to Trial by Combat | Bad Idea

Trial by Combat

Trial by Combat | R.I.P Rowdy Roddy Piper

“He Who Represents Himself has a Fool for a Client”

The quote above is attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It might surprise you, but almost every lawyer hires another lawyer to represent him in any type of legal proceeding. Notwithstanding our 6th Amendment rights, when faced with real estate closings, traffic tickets, divorce and yes criminal defense, attorneys typically hire other attorneys. There are numerous reasons why a lawyer would hire another lawyer to handle his/her case.   Initially, lawyers recognize when their legal issue is outside the scope of their own expertise. However, the main reason that most attorneys would never represent themselves is because we know that we lose the perspective that makes our services valuable. We know that litigation gets personal. An independent attorney acts as a buffer between our bad ideas and the court. Basically, we need somebody to tell us “no” and/or to shut up. Some noteable self representation failures include:

Trial by Combat

The most recent self representation failure involves an attorney, representing himself, filing a Motion for Trial by Combat.   The motion is relatively well written.  The argument is based on common law.  For simplicity, common law is the law that the United States inherited from England.  Most states have some type of enabling legislation stating something similar to the following: “The common law of England as in effect July 4, 1776 shall be the common law of the State of_______.”

The basic argument is that trial by combat was legal under the common law of England as of July 4, 1776.  Trial by combat was later made illegal in England, but New York has not specifically prohibited the practice.  Accordingly, the attorney, representing himself, demanded that he be afforded his right to trial by combat.

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The motion, by itself, is a glaring example of why an attorney should not represent himself.  No reasonably competent attorney would file this motion on behalf of their client work injury lawyers.  For the author’s sake, I hope that the judge hearing this case has a very good sense of humor.  If the judge doesn’t find this funny he might be in for a rough ride.

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