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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ind. Decisions - More on: SCOTUS to hear second Indiana case

Updating this lengthy ILB entry from Jan. 24th, the Indiana Supreme Court decision in the case of Ahmad Edwards v. State will be heard before the SCOTUS on Wed., March 26th.

Maureen Groppe, Gannett News Service, has a comprehansive USA Today story today on the appeal, headed "High court to consider self-representation." Some quotes:

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.

Indiana's position is backed by the Justice Department, 19 other states and the American Bar Association.

Edwards' lawyer counters that the right to represent oneself gives the defendant power in the relationship with his attorney, and states should not have "unfettered discretion" to place a higher standard on that right for certain defendants.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 22, 2008 09:23 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions