Edwards v. State, No. 49S02-0705-CR-202.

Docket NºNo. 49S02-0705-CR-202.
Citation866 N.E.2d 252
Case DateMay 17, 2007
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
866 N.E.2d 252
Ahmad EDWARDS, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
No. 49S02-0705-CR-202.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
May 17, 2007.

[866 N.E.2d 253]

Michael R. Fisher, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Steve Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, Thomas M. Fisher, Solicitor General of Indiana, Justin F. Roebel, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.

On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A02-0602-CR-144.

BOEHM, J.


We hold that the federal constitutional right to self-representation requires that a defendant who is competent to be tried for a crime be permitted to proceed pro se if that is the defendant's choice.

Facts and Procedural Background

On July 12, 1999, Ahmad Edwards fired three gunshots after being confronted on a downtown Indianapolis street by Ryan Martin, a department store loss prevention officer who had seen Edwards steal a pair of shoes. One of the shots grazed Martin's back, and one struck a bystander in the ankle. Edwards fled. Special Agent Thomas Flynn of the FBI was in the vicinity and pursued Edwards into a parking garage where he found Edwards in a "crouched position" placing some items in a shaded corner. After several requests that Edwards drop his weapon, Flynn shot

866 N.E.2d 254

Edwards in the thigh and apprehended him. Three days later, Edwards was charged with attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon, criminal recklessness, and theft.

Two disinterested psychiatrists found Edwards to be schizophrenic, and the trial court declared him incompetent to stand trial. In 2001, after two years of evaluation and treatment, Edwards was evaluated by a staff psychiatrist at the Logansport State Hospital and found competent to stand trial. However, in November 2003, the trial court ordered a second examination by two different disinterested psychiatrists, and Edwards was once again found incompetent. Finally, in July 2004, after another evaluation by a staff psychiatrist at the Logansport State Hospital, Edwards was found competent to stand trial. Edwards moved to proceed pro se, but the trial court denied that request, explaining that Edwards had stated his intention to raise insanity as a defense. The first trial took place in June 2005 and resulted in convictions of criminal recklessness and theft but a hung jury as to attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon. The court declared a mistrial and scheduled a new trial on the latter two counts.

On August 3, 2005, Edwards moved to proceed pro se at the retrial, and his counsel moved to withdraw. The trial court granted both motions. It is unclear whether Edwards then had new appointed trial counsel. In any event, on August 31, 2005, Edwards again moved to proceed pro se, and the trial court denied that motion. On December 13, 2005, Edwards filed a final motion to proceed pro se. That motion was heard on the morning of December 19, 2005, the first day of Edwards's retrial. At that hearing the trial court denied Edwards's motion to proceed pro se. The trial court found that Edwards was competent to stand trial but lacked the additional capability required to conduct a defense.

After a three-day trial, Edwards was convicted of attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to presumptive terms on those two counts and the two convictions from the first trial, with all four sentences to be served concurrently. This resulted in a sentence of thirty years, the presumptive sentence for attempted murder. Edwards appealed, claiming that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation at his second trial. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed and remanded this case for retrial of the attempted murder and battery counts. Edwards v. State, 854 N.E.2d 42, 45 (Ind.Ct.App.2006). The State seeks transfer, which is granted by order concurrent with this opinion.

The Right to Self-Representation

The State contends that the trial court properly found Edwards incompetent to represent himself because he was incapable of presenting a "meaningful" defense. The State argues that due process and fundamental fairness of a criminal trial are overriding considerations that limit the right to self-representation. Edwards responds that the Sixth Amendment to the Federal Constitution guarantees an accused the right to self-representation.1

866 N.E.2d 255

He cites precedent from the Supreme Court of the United States confirming this broad right to self-representation and holding that the standard for competence to waive the right to counsel is the same as that for competence to stand trial. Thus, Edwards contends that the trial court committed reversible error in finding him competent to stand trial but denying his request to represent himself. The State responds that more recent authority casts doubt on the continued vitality of the authorities on which Edwards relies. We agree that this contention has some force, but we conclude that we are bound by United States Supreme Court precedent and that the State must address its contention to that Court.

A. Faretta v. California

Edwards cites Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 95 S.Ct. 2525, 45 L.Ed.2d 562 (1975) as establishing his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation. In Faretta, the Supreme Court of the United States stated the question as whether a state court may "hale a person into its criminal courts and there force a lawyer upon him, even when he insists that he wants to conduct his own defense." 422 U.S. at 807, 95 S.Ct. 2525. The Court concluded that it could not. Id. In reaching this conclusion, the Court cited the structure of the Sixth Amendment, which provides:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witness against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

U.S. Const. amend. VI. Faretta observed that these rights are guaranteed in state proceedings by the Fourteenth Amendment. Faretta, 422 U.S. at 818, 95 S.Ct. 2525. Although the Sixth Amendment makes no explicit reference to a right to proceed pro se, Faretta found this right implicit because the right to defend is given to the accused, and counsel is to assist, not conduct, the defense. Id. at 818-20, 95 S.Ct. 2525. The defendant therefore has a federal constitutional right to be the "master" of the defense. Id. at 820, 95 S.Ct. 2525. The Faretta majority conceded that most criminal defendants would be better defended by counsel. Id. at 834, 95 S.Ct. 2525. But to force unwanted counsel on a defendant "violates the logic" of the Sixth Amendment. Id. at 820, 95 S.Ct. 2525.

Faretta also held that an accused must "knowingly and intelligently" forego his right to counsel and that the defendant need not possess the skill and experience of a lawyer in order to represent himself. Id. at 835, 95 S.Ct. 2525 (quoting Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464-65, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938)). The Court observed that the record clearly demonstrated that Faretta was "literate, competent, and understanding, and the he was voluntarily exercising his informed free will." Id. Noting that the trial judge informed Faretta that he would be required to follow the rules a lawyer would be required to follow, the Court concluded that

We need make no assessment of how well or poorly Faretta had mastered the intricacies of the hearsay rule and the California code provisions that govern challenges of potential jurors on voir dire. For his technical legal knowledge, as such, was not relevant to assessment

866 N.E.2d 256

of his knowing exercise of the right to defend himself.

Id. at 836, 95 S.Ct. 2525 (footnote omitted).

Chief Justice Burger dissented in Faretta, joined by Justices Blackmun and Rehnquist. In his view, public confidence in the criminal justice system requires a capable defense, and the right of the accused did not warrant converting it into an "instrument of self destruction." Id. at 839-40, 95 S.Ct. 2525. Justice Blackmun filed a separate dissent, expressing a concern that self-representation could transform a trial into a "vehicle for personal or political self-gratification." Id. at 849, 95 S.Ct. 2525.

B. Godinez v. Moran

A defendant is competent to stand trial if he has "sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding" and has a "rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him." Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960). In Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389, 113 S.Ct. 2680, 125 L.Ed.2d 321 (1993), the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed the Dusky standard and held that the standard of competence to waive the right to counsel is the same as the standard of competence to stand trial. Moran was charged with three murders and found competent to stand trial. Godinez, 509 U.S. at 391, 113 S.Ct. 2680. He informed the court that he wished to plead guilty and discharge his counsel. Id. at 392, 113 S.Ct. 2680. After advising Moran of his rights and warning him of the disadvantages of proceeding pro se, the trial court accepted his waiver of counsel and guilty pleas, concluding that Moran had "knowingly and intelligently" waived counsel and had entered his pleas "freely and voluntarily." Id. at 392-93, 113 S.Ct. 2680.

Moran was sentenced to death for each of the three murders, and two of these were affirmed on appeal. Id. at 393, 113 S.Ct. 2680. Two years later, Moran filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had been "mentally incompetent to represent himself." Id. After the state courts denied relief, Moran sought federal habeas corpus. Id. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of habeas, concluding that competence to waive the right...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. Connor, No. 18099.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 14, 2009
    ...trial court had denied Edwards his right to represent himself inasmuch as he had been deemed competent to stand trial. Edwards v. State, 866 N.E.2d 252, 260 (Ind.2007). The state of Indiana filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, claiming that, because the trial court reasonably had conc......
  • Indiana v. Edwards, No. 07–208.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 2008
    ...overrule Faretta because today's opinion may well remedy the unfair trial concerns previously leveled against the case. Pp. 2387 – 2388. 866 N.E.2d 252, vacated and remanded. BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and STEVENS, KENNEDY, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and......
  • Edwards v. State, No. 49S02-0705-CR-202.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 17, 2009
    ...case are recited at length in Indiana v. Edwards (Edwards), ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008), and Edwards v. State, 866 N.E.2d 252 (Ind.2007). Defendant Ahmad Edwards was tried twice in connection with a 1999 theft and shooting in downtown Indianapolis. His first trial r......
  • State v. Burden, No. 116,810
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • July 17, 2020
    ...found Edwards mentally incompetent to represent himself.The Indiana Supreme Court reversed Edwards' conviction. Edwards v. State , 866 N.E.2d 252, 260 (Ind. 2007), vacated 554 U.S. 164, 128 S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008). The Indiana Supreme Court first noted that Faretta held that "to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Connor, No. 18099.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 14, 2009
    ...trial court had denied Edwards his right to represent himself inasmuch as he had been deemed competent to stand trial. Edwards v. State, 866 N.E.2d 252, 260 (Ind.2007). The state of Indiana filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, claiming that, because the trial court reasonably had conc......
  • Indiana v. Edwards, No. 07–208.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 2008
    ...overrule Faretta because today's opinion may well remedy the unfair trial concerns previously leveled against the case. Pp. 2387 – 2388. 866 N.E.2d 252, vacated and remanded. BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and STEVENS, KENNEDY, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and......
  • Edwards v. State, No. 49S02-0705-CR-202.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 17, 2009
    ...case are recited at length in Indiana v. Edwards (Edwards), ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008), and Edwards v. State, 866 N.E.2d 252 (Ind.2007). Defendant Ahmad Edwards was tried twice in connection with a 1999 theft and shooting in downtown Indianapolis. His first trial r......
  • State v. Burden, No. 116,810
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • July 17, 2020
    ...found Edwards mentally incompetent to represent himself.The Indiana Supreme Court reversed Edwards' conviction. Edwards v. State , 866 N.E.2d 252, 260 (Ind. 2007), vacated 554 U.S. 164, 128 S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008). The Indiana Supreme Court first noted that Faretta held that "to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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