“An Opportunity for Effective Cross-Examination”: Limits on the Confrontation Right of the Pro Se Defendant

The rights of a defendant to confront his accusers and conduct his defense without the assistance of counsel are sacrosanct in the American judicial system. The rights of the defendant are even sometimes exalted at the expense of the rights of the public or of victims of crime. This Note examines the problem of a pro se defendant using his confrontation right to intimidate or harass his alleged victims testifying against him. It is well-established that the confrontation right is not unconditional. The problem comes in determining whether the courts can place limits on the confrontation right of a pro se defendant in order to preserve the integrity of the trial process. This Note advocates the appointment of standby counsel to supplant the pro se defendant’s cross-examination of a witness or victim who may be unlawfully intimidated into testifying falsely if cross-examined personally by the defendant.