U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

8th Affirms Denial to Let Fraudster Represent Himself Pro Se

Calling all experienced motion practice attorneys out there: what does the following mean? "Affidavit of Truth Notice of Conditional Acceptance of Offer Upon Proof of Claim."

We've seen some awful motion captions before, but the above takes the cake. And because of ridiculous behavior by a litigant who wanted to represent himself pro se, the circuit court affirmed a lower court's decision that he should lose that privilege.

The Ponzi Scheme

When people representing themselves pro se, they risk losing in disastrous fashion. The defendant in this case apparently did not appreciate the fact. Or otherwise, he decided to go nuts with it. Still, it's not the worst pro se case we've seen.

In the case at hand, two men operated a Ponzi scheme under an LLC and bilked a retiree out of $500,000 with the promise of a 10 percent return on her money in the first year. Within barely any time at all, the gig was up as the elderly woman noticed that some of her investment's returns were being written out of an account that had nothing to do with her manager's business ... or so she thought.

Krug Moves for Pro Se

It was all a Rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul con. The two men, Elliot and Krug were dragged before court and convicted various crimes. Krug, for his part played a smaller role in the scheme and was charged of conspiracy to commit fraud. For reasons known only to him, Krug moved the court to represent himself pro se. The court mercifully and sternly warned Krug against this strategy and placed him on notice that if he was convicted, he would face 20 years of prison. Krug, however, basically seemed unresponsive.

Obstructionist Tactics

We take it back, Krug must have known that his conduct in court would only delay legal proceedings. If he was counting on that, then he succeeded. For example, this is how he responded to the court's question of whether he understood that he would have to follow court rules: "Sir, again, I'm here as a third-party intervenor for that corporate entity that you have that you're trying to get me to agree that I am. I am the owner of that name. I am not that entity that you're referring to."

The circuit looked at this ridiculous response and others like it to find easily that the lower court was correct to find obstructionism.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a party the right to represent himself in court. It does not confer the right to be a jackass.

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