Indiana Case Will Determine Self-Representation

by Gabe Bullard on March 25, 2008

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments Wendesday in a case from Indiana that could decide the future of self-representation in legal proceedings.

In 2004 Ahmad Edwards was on trial for attempted murder and other charges. He was deemed mentally competent to stand trial, but the court denied him the right to act as his own attorney. Now the Supreme Court is being asked to decide if the standard to defend oneself is higher than the standard to be tried.

Indiana University Professor Henry Karlson predicts the court will rule in favor of one standard. He says the Constitution allows self-representation, for better or for worse.

“I think the Constitution gives a person the right to make mistakes in defending themselves,” says Karlson.  “So long as they understand fully that that is their choice and the potential consequences of their choice.”

Karlson says if the court rules in favor of two standards, lower courts could raise the self-representation standard so high, that practically no one could act as their own attorney.

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