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Cert. Grant: Can State Adopt Standard of Competence for Pro Per Status Higher Than Standard for Competence to Stand Trial?
December 18, 2007

On December 7, 2007, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a direct criminal appeal from Indiana presenting questions arising out of the tension between the due process right to a fair trial and the Sixth Amendment right to self-representation. The case is Indiana v. Edwards, no. 07-208, and the Court has limited the questions presented to one: "May states adopt a higher standard for measuring competency to represent oneself at trial than for measuring competency to stand trial?"

In Edwards, the Indiana Supreme Court found that the trial court's conclusion that the defendant could not adequately represent himself was supported by the record, but held that it was bound by Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975) and Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389 (1993) to hold that a defendant who is competent to stand trial is also competent to represent himself. In Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389 (1993), the Court had held that the standard of competence to waive the right to counsel is the same as the standard of competence to stand trial. Accordingly, the court reversed the conviction because the trial court erroneously denied the defendant's request to represent himself. Edwards v. State, no. 49S02-0705-CR-202 (Ind. filed May 17, 2007).

The cert. petition, opposition, reply and amicus brief can be viewed at SCOTUSblog at this link There is no briefing on the merits yet and no date yet set for oral argument.

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