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Jailhouse lawyer

A Rock Hill man charged with murder and attempted murder will not only claim self-defense, he will employ self-defense — in court — as his tactic to beat the rap.

Yes, 22-year-old Keenan Miller will ignore the sound advice of essentially everyone on Earth who has ever passed a bar exam, and serve as his own lawyer, according to a report from The Herald of Rock Hill. Court records show that Miller fired previous counsel, and apparently tried to fire the judge in a handwritten letter stating: ““Your service is no longer needed or wanted, you are hereby relieved of your service to me. Thank you for serving.”

Unfortunately for Miller, the judge remains, the charges remain, and if this doesn’t go well for him, as history suggests that it might not, Miller will remain.

Remain in jail for a long time, possibly forever, that is.

Thanks to the Constitution and case law, Miller has the right to defend himself against the pile of charges against him. According to the article, the court has warned Miller that he doesn’t have to do this, that a lawyer must be provided if he can’t afford one.

Maybe Miller doesn’t trust the government. Without agreeing, Sidebar understands the argument.

Or maybe he believes that if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.

Sidebar, were it an entity capable of dispensing legal advice, would strenuously object to this line of thinking so…strenuously that it would make Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway proud.

Apparently, Sidebar is not alone.

Law professor Kenneth Gaines of the University of South Carolina told The Herald that Miller is “rolling the dice big time.”

Miller Shealy, a professor at the Charleston School of Law, said Miller has a better chance of winning the Powerball than of winning an acquittal.

Miller is charged in what prosecutors say is his role in the fatal shooting of a teenager last year when two “rival groups” began shooting at each other.

Whether or not this was self-defense remains to be seen.

But while defending yourself against an attack — especially if you can’t get away — is understandable and often encouraged, defending yourself in court against a potential one-way ticket to the penitentiary…eh, maybe not so much.

Unrelated to this case, but probably applicable, is a recent tweet from @lawyerthoughts. It reads: “I hope your guardian angel has a law degree.”

Miller’s attorney was not available for comment.

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