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U.S. allowed to join Indy case arguments

January 1, 2008
The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the federal government to have a voice in arguments of an Indiana case later this month, testing the competency standards for pro se litigants in criminal cases.

On March 14, justices of the nation's highest court granted a motion from the U.S. Solicitor General to participate in arguments as amicus curiae in Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, 07-208, set for 10 a.m. March 26.

At issue is what the Sixth Amendment dictates when determining whether someone found competent to stand trial is also competent to represent himself in criminal proceedings.

The 1999 case stems from an Indianapolis man who was arrested after stealing shoes from a downtown store, then shooting at police while running away. After years of being declared both not competent and competent to stand trial, he was ultimately cleared to be competent for trial, but a trial judge determined he wasn't fit to represent himself. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed that order and invited the U.S. Supreme Court review.

Washington, D.C., attorney Mark Stancil is lead attorney arguing for Edwards, taking over the reigns from Marion County Public Defender Agency attorney Michael Fisher who handled the state appellate proceedings. Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher is arguing for the state, and will share his time with the federal government.
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