Tuesday, March 17, 2009
In an opinion issued today, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of a defendant who had claimed denial of his right to self-representation. the defendant was found competent to stand trial but denied his request to represent himself because of his severe mental illness. The case (Indiana v. Edwards) had been remanded from the United States Supreme Court.
The court here concluded that the record established that the defendant suffered from a severe mental illness that rendered him incompetent to conduct the trial proceedings by himself. In addition to the conclusions of mental health professionals, the defendant "produced a litany of disorganized and incoherent motions" to the trial court. Although the mental health evidence was in conflict, "the trial court had before it the record of erratic performance that gave no confidence that whatever Edwards's state as of a given moment, it might be a transient condition...these circumstances support the trial court's determination that Edwards suffered from severe mental illness such that he was not competent to represent himself." (Mike Frisch)