March 25, 2008

"A big proponent of the right of self-representation"

On the eve of Supreme Court argument in Indiana v. Edwards, Professor Erica Hashimoto drops by Concurring Opinions to validate public defender client perceptions that - yes, we're abysmal, and - yes, we're in cahoots with the government.

Comments are open. I think it was someone from the defense perspective who once commented, "Frankly, Professor Hashimoto is off her rocker."

See also, Prevention Not Punishment, "Should Inmates with Severe Mental Illness Be Allowed to Represent Themselves?"


Anonymous said...

really? I'm a zealous PD and activist on indigent defense issues, and I agree with her on just about anything. To me, there's nothing worse than a bad PD, and there are plenty of them out there. Plus, pro se defendants often do very well in front of juries, who feel sympathetic towards the defendant. And with standby counsel there to assure that nothing goes horribly awry...what's your beef here? I think calling her "off her rocker" is way overboard.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" must work in a very different jurisdiction than me. I've seen a little bit of success for pro se defendants on misdemeanors when it's obvious to the jury that the charge is penny ante to begin with. But the felony business I've seen involving pro se defendants has been death and destruction.

You get to be standby counsel in the first place when your client does not want to follow your legal advice and instead wants to raise specious arguments, or put on ridiculous defenses. Then you just stand there and make sure the judge doesn't violate any obvious rights of the pro se defendant while simultaneously watching that defendant commit legal suicide in front of a jury. Perhaps in other jurisdictions the judges allow you to run more interference as standby counsel but not here.

Stephen Gustitis said...

Pro-se defense in anything more than a traffic ticket is a recipe for disaster. Rather, it is simply insane.


Woman in Black said...

I won a pc relief action last fall where paranoid schizophrenic represented himself at trial. That trial was one of the ugliest things I have ever read. Mentally ill people (even if they do not meet whatever Draconian def. of "incompetent" your jurisdiction lays on) cannot represent themselves.