A Chinese woman charged with illegally entering President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort will be allowed to act as her own attorney, a judge ruled Tuesday after strenuously trying to talk her out of it as she struggled with legal concepts and spoken English.
U.S. District Judge Roy Altman found Yujing Zhang to be competent and intelligent, granting her request to fire her public defenders and be her own lawyer, as is her legal right. But he also ordered her attorneys to remain on standby, sit in the gallery at all hearings, assist if she requests help and resume their roles if she finds the task too difficult and changes her mind.
Zhang, a 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant, has pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing March 30 at Mar-a-Lago and lying to Secret Service agents when they confronted her. They say she was carrying a computer, cellphones and other electronics and had additional gear and significant cash in her hotel room, but she has not been charged with espionage. Zhang, who was in court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday, faces up to six years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted. She is being held without bond.