Thursday, April 12, 2012

Conviction Reversed: Inadequate Inquiry Into Right To Self-Representation

A first degree robbery conviction was reversed by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The defendant had expressed a desire to proceed without counsel. The court here held that the ensuing inquiry by the trial court was insufficent to establish that the defendant was not competent to represent himself.

The judge asked the defendant if he knew was a statute was and whether he was aware of the statutory penalty for robbery. He did not. The defendant declined to describe how he would defend himself. When he pressed his desire to represent himself, the judge denied the request and concluded that the defendant did not understand the consequences of his decision. (Mike Frisch)

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