jailhouse lawyer

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jailhouse lawyer (plural jailhouse lawyers)

  1. (informal) A person incarcerated in a prison, jail, etc., who has acquired significant knowledge of the justice system and who is able to represent himself in some legal proceedings and to provide legal advice to other prisoners.
    • 1994 June 11, Alisa Solomon, “The Prison on Varick Street”, in New York Times (retrieved 19 Nov 2012)[1]:
      As something of a jailhouse lawyer, he has gathered affidavits attesting to abusive treatment by guards at the center, informed detainees of their legal rights and helped them write letters of appeal.
    • 2001 June 24, David S. Jackson, “Murder Most Foul”, in Time[2]:
      Once there, he became a jailhouse lawyer, filing complaints about everything from prison food to his attorneys.
    • 2013, Nicole Hendrix, ‎James Inciardi, Experience Criminal Justice, page 325:
      Thus, the justices held that unless the state could provide some reasonable alternative type of legal assistance, a jailhouse lawyer must be permitted to aid inmates in filing habeas corpus petitions.