If a defendant in a criminal case testifies on the stand, then they must submit to cross examination, which is not good for them.

However, if a defendant is conducting his case pro se, then can he make statements of fact during opening and closing arguments and thereby avoid cross examination of those facts or statements. Will a judge try to prevent this?

For example, imagine a defendant is charged with vehicular manslaughter for running over a pedestrian. The defendant conducts his own defense and in his closing arguments says, "The man ran in front of my car, there was no way to stop in time" and this fact has not been introduced to the case previously. Will the judge in such a case try to stop the defendant from making such a statement in his closing argument?


My understanding is that you can make statements of fact as a pro se defendant, but the judge can choose to ignore those statements; however, the judge cannot use those statements against a pro se defendant as inculpatory evidence or admissions of guilt.

  • The question is mostly about jury trials. In other words , I want to know if the judge will try to interfere with a pro se defendant making statements of fact to a jury during opening and closing arguments. – Cicero Jan 11 at 13:32
  • I don't know if the judge would actually instruct the jury to ignore statements of fact from opening statements, but a normal jury won't take anything you say in your opening as a proven fact. They will expect you to prove or establish reasonable doubt in cross examination. Also whether the man ran in front of your car or not may not be a defense depending on the text of the law used against you. – pboss3010 Jan 11 at 15:23

The general rule is that in the opening statement, the lawyer may describe what he expects the evidence and testimony to show:

We will present Mr Smith, who will tell you that he saw the defendant miles away at the time of the crime

But cannot make statements of fact as such. I don't see why this rule would be different for a pro se defendant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.