When somebody is arrested they’re given a Miranda warning, which, in addition to a few other things, informs the arrested individual that they have a right to an attorney. However, an individual’s right to an attorney, like every other right, is subject to change whenever it suits the State:
With its case falling apart, the prosecution did something drastic: It asked presiding Judge Andrew Hague to dismiss Rodriguez’s public defender on the grounds that it would not seek jail time. This meant Rodriguez was no longer entitled to a lawyer.
Since the vast majority of misdemeanor cases in Miami-Dade County do not end with a conviction (or subsequent jail time) the prosecutor’s decision not to seek jail time was a minor concession. The public defender objected, arguing that Florida law required Judge Hague to determine whether her removal would disadvantage Mr. Rodriguez. The judge ignored this request and discharged the lawyer.
On April 27, 2016, Rodriguez had his day in court, representing himself. Things did not go well. Rodriguez unwittingly waived his right to a jury trial after Judge Hague failed to explain what was happening. The prosecution’s case rested entirely on the testimony of the arresting officers. But because Rodriguez did not know how to follow up with the public defender’s requests for discovery and depositions, he was unprepared to challenge the officers’ testimony. To make matters worse, Judge Hague repeatedly and loudly berated Rodriguez for not knowing how to ask questions like a lawyer.
This case can be added to the stupidly long list of cases that demonstrate that the court system isn’t about justice.
Being a defendant or a prosecutor in a courtroom requires arcane knowledge. It’s not enough to argue your point, you have to argue it using the proper incantations. Failing to do so will bring the wrath of the man in the muumuu on you. He will declare your statement inadmissible. This is why representation is critical. You need a guy on your side who possesses the arcane knowledge of the courtroom. Without him, most people will be steamrolled by the other side.