Joseph C. Self - Attorney at Law

Criminal defense, bankruptcy (Chapter 7, Arkansas only), divorce and family law, business matters, personal injury claims, and other civil matters

Joseph Self is an attorney with an office in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His practice is primarily in western Arkansas. Self handles criminal defense matters, as well as personal injury, divorce/family law cases, bankruptcy, Social Security disability and other civil matters. He is also certified by the Arkansas Supreme Court to be a mediator in civil and family matters. Self graduated from Havana — now Western Yell County — High School, before earning a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech and his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville School of Law in 1982. After graduation, Self joined the Crawford/Sebastian County prosecuting attorney’s office where he remained until 1987, when he went into private practice. From 1990 until late 2008 he owned and operated Self Law Firm, before returning to the prosecutor’s office as the Chief Deputy in January, 2009. While at the prosecutor's office, Self was assigned to several homicides and major drug cases, was in charge of the Drug Court program and handled several jury trials. Self left the prosecutor's office in August, 2010 to return to private practice. His office is located at 6301 Hwy 45, Suite C, in Fort Smith. Self has handled hundreds of cases in court, ranging from divorce and child custody, to criminal matters as serious as murder, as well as contract disputes and traffic accidents. He has tried several dozen cases before a jury over his 34 year career. Self has served as a mediator in more than 80 cases.

Operating as usual

[11/21/20]   Attorney friends, or any that know, who is doing home studies for adoptions in the River Valley these days?

[07/16/20]   Lawyer/paralegal friends: I need to file a complaint for underinsured benefits. I can't remember the last time I did one of these, and would like to look at one before submitting this. Please email one to me at [email protected]. Thanks.

[05/27/20]   Beginning June 1, 2020, I will be at my new location. I'm moving to 400 Rogers, Suites 3 and 5. My new mailing address is P.O. Box 8453, Fort Smith, AR 72902. My email address is also changing to [email protected]. The phone number will remain 479-785-5881, and the fax number is 785-5883.

[03/16/20]   My office will be open as usual until further notice. For the safety of my clients, I will be conducting more business by telephone or email. If you are a new client, feel free to send an email to [email protected] with ‘new client’ in the subject line. I try to return calls or answer emails on the day I receive them.

[12/06/19]   My internet at work has been out since Wednesday morning, and latest estimate is that it will be out all day today. I will check emails from my house before I go to work and on my phone when I can, but I can’t do much from it.

[10/26/19]   I am stunned at the moment. I just learned my dear friend John Settle suddenly passed away this morning.

I met John in August 1982. I know it was that month because I'd just passed the bar, and the Sebastian County Public Defender's office was needing an attorney. I interviewed with him, but he had another applicant with experience and a couple of capital murder trials coming up, so he hired the one he didn't have to train. A month later, I saw him in court, and he gave me that "I've seen you somewhere" look. I reintroduced myself, and from there, our friendship began.

I tried my first jury trial against him--I lost, but he didn't take advantage of my greenness.

The last time I saw him, I was in court, and he was handling a case that should have never made it to his desk. He made me an offer that I declined, and he talked to the officer or witness to learn what I already knew. He came back to me and said "I'm going to dismiss this." As always, he was interested in doing the right thing.

Between that first and last meeting, I have a myriad of memories of John, far too many to share here. Those that come to my wall to be entertained, please understand I'm not feeling it now. 08/05/2019

Florida deputy arrested for planting drugs faces 100 years in prison

This is one reason why the answer to the question "Do you mind if I search your car?" is always "yes, I do mind. Anything else I can do for you today?" He said her brake lights didn’t work. He then asked if Odom would consent to a search of her vehicle.

[07/30/19]   Just learning of the death of Joel Price. I only learned of his illness about three weeks ago, and like many, am going to miss seeing him, bumping fists and chatting. 05/13/2019


Attorneys and pro se litigants, beware of the Dover v. State case decided last week. If an appeal from district court is not done exactly right, it gets dismissed: TERRY DOVER v. STATE OF ARKANSAS - 2019 Ark. App. 260 04/23/2019

Law Office | Fort Smith, AR | Self Law Firm

New website up today: Are you or a loved one being charged with a crime? Call Self Law Firm in Fort Smith, AR today for a free phone consultation. Our number is 479-785-5881. 11/19/2018

The 5 Worst Supreme Court Rulings of the Past 50 Years Cases in which a majority of the Court fell down on the job.


Joseph C. Self - Attorney at Law

I received an inquiry from a serviceman in Europe about some problems with a custody order from Crawford County and a court action in a European country that differs from the order in Crawford County. Any of my lawyer friends have experience in dealing with custody matters that involves a serviceman in Europe?

[07/25/18]   I received an inquiry from a serviceman in Europe about some problems with a custody order from Crawford County and a court action in a European country that differs from the order in Crawford County. Any of my lawyer friends have experience in dealing with custody matters that involves a serviceman in Europe? 03/08/2018

Things We Said Today #265 - Attorney Joey Self looks at some of the Beatles' best-known legal cases

Ok, not really related to my law practice, but rather my sideline as a writer about Beatles lawsuits, I did an interview this week with the nice guys at "Things We Said Today" This week, Steve Marinucci, Allan Kozinn and Ken Michaels welcome attorney Joey Self as their guest. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he wrote four lengthy essays on Beatles' court cases that were published on Steve Marinucci's Abbeyrd's Beatles P...


I've seen references to the 8th Circuit case about filming a police officer, and decided to go read it for myself. That case affirms a lower court ruling (linked below) that said "Further, he has no constitutional right to videotape any public proceedings he wishes to. See Rice v. Kempker, 374 F.3d 675, 678 (8th Cir. 2004) (“[N]either the public nor the media has a First Amendment right to videotape, photograph, or make audio recordings of government proceedings that are by law open to the public.”).


Don't Talk to Cops, Part 1 - YouTube

While an experienced attorney can come up with times talking to the police actually prevented charges from being filed, this is a good video about why I counsel my clients to remain silent in the vast majority of my cases:

Mr. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former defense attorney, tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

[01/16/17]   A client with a drainage issue needs to consult with an engineer to determine what it would take to remedy the problem. Any suggestions for me to call on his behalf?

[01/06/17]   As of today, I am no longer a conflict public defender for Sebastian and Crawford County. I had returned to this position in May after having been told there would be two new positions (total of four) for this area. After several months passed, the fourth position was not filled. I was being asked to do 1/3 more work for the same compensation I had agreed to upon returning. Life is too short to go through it aggravated, so I resigned. 04/01/2016

Man acquitted in nephew's death

Forgot to link this on this page, so here 'tis: A Franklin County Circuit Court jury acquitted a man of first-degree murder Thursday in the fatal shooting of his nephew last spring.


My service as a special justice to the Supreme Court is now over. I wrote a concurring opinion in this matter. It is a case about a request by both parents to modify a joint custody arrangement. Attorneys practicing in this area need to read this one.

[09/03/15]   I am sad to learn this morning of the passing of my client and friend, Chuck Dyer. He had a very rough time of it the past few years--loss of his parents, auto accident, an embezzlement, a persecution from the Arkansas Insurance Department, and then complications from surgery capped by liver cancer. I'm going to miss him.

[05/20/15]   For the lawyers in Northwest Arkansas that haven't seen it, there is a CLE at UAFS on Friday morning. 06/25/2014

Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches

Seems like a common sense ruling, and with it being a unanimous decision, I figure it will be applied quickly without too much grousing by liberals, conservatives or libertarians The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

[12/16/13]   I, and many others in the legal community, lost a friend and colleague today with the passing of Eddie Christian. Last time I saw him in court, a week or two ago, I wondered if I'd see him again. His body was failing him, and visibly so. But his mind was clear, and he gave me that familiar smile and wink that I'm going to miss. My thoughts are with his family and many friends.

[07/11/13]   Ok, let's discuss the George Zimmerman trial here-I think all the friends here can do it without any rancor. I didn't watch a single minute of live testimony, getting most of my information from either a news show or an internet story (like Yahoo News). As a former prosecutor, I was mystified at some of the decisions that were made, such as playing Zimmerman's interview with Sean Hannity; that was self-serving, and whatever benefit there was for the State, it was doubly so for the defense. What are your thoughts?

[04/04/13]   As of Monday, April 8, I will no longer be serving as the Public Defender in Conflicts cases. I appreciated being able to do that for the past 2 1/2 years, but it was time to do something else.


To my lawyer friends: Be very wary of emails that want to hire you to collect a judgment or debt. It's a scam that seems harmless enough, but it's not. More info here:

[05/04/12]   I was visiting with a law enforcement officer today before court. I pointed out that we pay him to be suspicious, and then we ask a jury to be suspicious about his suspicion. He thought about it a moment, and said "That's right." It's the presumption of innocence that a defendant has in court that a law enforcement officer doesn't have to deal with. The good ones know that eventually, that legal hurdle will have to be overcome, and build their case accordingly. And when an officer has done his or her job well, it makes my task that much easier. 04/30/2012

George Will: Should the U.S. legalize hard drugs?

I think too many are afraid to have this conversation for fear of being deemed a bed-wetting liberal. George Will has no such fear, and echoes a position of William F. Buckley from many years ago: It's time for us to re-evaluate what we're doing on the war on drugs. Your thoughts? George Will

[10/15/11]   Any of you watching LAST SHOT WITH JUDGE GUNN? I keep forgetting it is on at noon on Fox. As a huge proponent of drug court, and as an acquaintance of Judge Gunn from my law school days, I hope this works out for her, and increases awareness of what drug court can do.

[09/26/11]   Any thoughts on this? I have a passing acquaintance with Lu Hardin, and always liked him, but have to admit, I didn't follow this case; I didn't know until today that he was charged (or had forgotten it)




400 Rogers Avenue, PO Box 8453
Fort Smith, AR

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
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