Fool For A Client Beats the Rap…Almost!


Franklin County, Ohio, a place best known for election hanky panky of late, has a new claim to fame. Reader Mark Noble notes that accused murderer Timothy Daniel has successfully defended himself in a Columbus court. A jury of his peers took just four hours to acquit Daniel, who fired his lawyer on Tuesday.

Aficionados of the widely maligned art of autolitigation (including Reason's Nick Gillespie in this long-ago Suck column) may be able to say whether this is a unique development in American law; Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Dale Crawford says it's the first time he's seen it done in a murder trial. And he doesn't seem too pleased about it:

Crawford said that he believed Daniel killed Morbitzer and that's why he sentenced him to the maximum five years under [a "firearm with disability" count on which Daniel was found guilty].

Counterfactual corner: Would he have been acquitted if he hadn't fired his lawyer (ie, was the case against him just so weak that he was destined to skate anyway)? And if so, would the judge have come down so hard on the weapons charge (ie, was he upset because he thinks Daniel's guilty or because Daniel made a monkey out of him)?

And what's a "firearm with disability" crime?