I already know about the possible folly for doing this, so my question is not how wise would this be, but rather:

In some criminal trials, defendants have multiple attorneys working the case. In OJ Simpson's I believe at one time it was 7 with 5 on the table (not sure).

Is it possible to be pro se and represent yourself at trial with the ability to, for instance, raise objections at trial, and also be represented by one or more attorneys?

Would the defendant also need to "register as counsel" as attorneys do prior?

  • I don't understand what you mean by "represent". It means "act as attorney for another". You can speak for yourself. Do you mean "Can both you and an attorney argue in court", assuming that you can find an attorney would would agree to such behavior?
    – user6726
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:17
  • Assuming you could find an attorney that would agree to such behavior, yes, can a defendant speak and argue for himself even while being represented by attorneys. And would he have to make that known to court prior to the trial?
    – mark b
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:28
  • 1
    Courts will not allow a represented party to make comments in the courtroom for various reasons. In the court only one person can make the case. Even though OJ might have had a lot of lawyers, only one of those lawyers can speak for him in court.
    – Cicero
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


This is not possible, simply as a matter of definitions and legal terminology. Someone who is "represented by one or more attorneys" is by definition not pro se which means representing yourself without an attorney.

There are very rare instances in criminal trials involving serious consequences in which a pro se defendant is allowed to have an attorney advisor who does not represent them in court in an agency capacity, but, first, people who do that almost always lose and are almost always mentally ill (although not necessarily eligible for an insanity defense), and second, because courts generally don't allow this in any other circumstance (at least in court).

The concept of getting advice from an attorney without having full fledged representation is called a "limited representation" and the law regarding limited representations more generally varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and even between different courts in the same place.

For example, Colorado's state courts and Colorado's federal courts have different rules for limited representations.

  • 1
    Is it procedurally allowed (or expressly forbidden) to both argue your own case and have an attorney argue for you (tag team arguing, as it were)? Suppose you had a crazy attorney who would agree to do this, would it be allowed by the court?
    – user6726
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:43
  • 1
    Generally no. I've seen a couple of individuals try to do so in civil cases and in those cases they have been soundly rebuffed by the court. Often courts are willing to listen to what a client has to say if the attorney asks permission or if the court is willing to ask questions (especially in low stakes matters) but this is generally in the nature of pre-trial testimony rather than argument. There can be more leniency when an attorney is a party and also represents someone else in the case. A tag time approach is also usually less effective.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 21:48

Is it possible to be pro se and represent yourself at trial with the ability to, for instance, raise objections at trial, and also be represented by one or more attorneys?

Yes, at least in some jurisdictions. One recent example from Michigan is (civil case) Lakin v. Rund, 896 N.W.2d 76 (2016). This is also known as "hybrid representation".

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