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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, March 24, 2008

SCOTUS To Hear Self Representation Case

From USATODAY.com:  A shoe shoplifting incident that escalated into a lunchtime shooting in downtown Indianapolis nearly a decade ago is now the basis for the Supreme Court to decide how much latitude states have to determine if a defendant is capable of representing himself at trial.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Wednesday in an Indiana case in which a Marion County judge decided a defendant with a history of mental illness was competent to stand trial, but not to represent himself as he requested.

When Ahmad Edwards appealed his conviction of attempted murder and other charges, the Indiana Supreme Court agreed Edwards had the right to represent himself and reversed his conviction.

The Indiana attorney general's office appealed, arguing that allowing mentally impaired defendants to represent themselves undermines fair trials and erodes public confidence in the system.

"The consequences often are disastrous for both the defendants and the integrity — not to mention dignity — of the criminal justice system," the Indiana attorney general's office wrote in its brief to the court. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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