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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues one today

In David Hopper v. State of Indiana, a 6-page, 3-2 opinion filed late this afternoon, Justice Boehm writes for the majority:

[W]e exercise our supervisory power to require that in the future a defendant expressing a desire to proceed without counsel is to be advised of the dangers of going to trial as required by Faretta, and also be informed that an attorney is usually more experienced in plea negotiations and better able to identify and evaluate any potential defenses and evidentiary or procedural problems in the prosecution’s case. Such an advisement will require minimal additional time or effort at the initial hearing, and may encourage defendants to accept counsel. The effect of this advice will undoubtedly vary from case to case, but we do not believe it will impose significant burdens on the judicial process. To the extent this additional information causes fewer defendants to proceed pro se, participation of counsel in this process may encourage plea bargains as frequently as it causes delay.

Because we announce a new requirement as an exercise of supervisory powers, we apply it prospectively to hearings in which a defendant expresses a desire to proceed pro se, and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan, and Rucker, JJ., concur.

Shepard, C.J., dissents with separate opinion in which Dickson, J., joins [that concludes] If indeed the advisement is likely to be minimal, does it tell offenders anything they didn’t learn from television? How many repeat offenders will avoid the penalties they have otherwise earned because the warning was omitted or was found inadequate with the benefit of hindsight? How many victims will these repeat offenders create?

That society, or even offenders, will be better off is far from clear.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 28, 2010 05:45 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions