A federal judge delayed the trial of a Chinese woman charged with trespassing at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and lying to Secret Service agents after accusing her of trying to “play games” at a hearing yesterday [Macau}]as she acted as her own attorney against the judge’s strong advice.
U.S. District Judge Roy Altman rescheduled Yujing Zhang’s trial to begin Sept. 3 instead of next week to give her more time to prepare after she did not receive all the paperwork defense attorneys usually get and she said she was sick. He also gave the 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant until next week to consider a prosecution motion to have Altman decide the case instead of a jury and until Aug. 30 to file defense documents that she failed to file by Tuesday’s deadline.
From Altman’s questioning it appears Zhang has done little to prepare for a trial that could see her spend six years in prison if convicted. She fired her public defenders in June, saying she wanted to defend herself even though she has no familiarity with the U.S. justice system. Altman spent an hour in June trying to talk her out of exercising that right and resumed that effort Tuesday.
After she struggled Tuesday with understanding basic legal procedures such as calling witnesses and picking a jury, the judge told her he could reappoint her former public defenders, who stood quietly 20 feet (6 meters) away. Altman is requiring them to be present in case she changes her mind.
“That’s OK, thank you,” Zhang responded.
“I figured that would be your answer,” Altman replied, sounding resigned.
At one point early in the hearing, Zhang appeared to be staring into space and did not respond to repeated questions Altman posed through her Mandarin interpreter.
“The defendant is apparently trying to play games with the court. The court will not allow the defendant to play games,” Altman said as he declared that the hearing would continue with or without Zhang’s cooperation.
Zhang told Altman that she felt dizzy, possibly from low blood pressure. He asked if she had reported that to a jail doctor. She said she’d told the marshals who had brought her to court yesterday. Terry Spencer, Fort Lauderdale, AP