ILNews

Test run for SCOTUS arguments

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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An Indiana case goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the final week of March to determine whether a man who's been found competent to stand trial is competent to represent himself in those court proceedings.

Before that happens, though, the defense team representing the Indianapolis man is at the University of Illinois College of Law in Chicago getting a test run today in a mock argument of Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, which will go before the nation's highest court on March 26.

The case poses a question of whether states may adopt a higher standard for measuring competency to represent oneself at trial than for measuring competency to stand trial. It comes from a criminal case out of Indianapolis in 1999, which resulted in years of litigation before the Indiana Supreme Court decided in May 2007 that Edwards had a right to represent himself at a new trial. The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepted the case late last year and is now being fully briefed.

"This is a pretty significant case that's not only interesting, but it really matters," said law professor Andrew Leipold, the director of the college's criminal law and procedure program. "This is a test drive in front of our faculty."

Washington, D.C.-based attorney Mark Stancil, who's arguing before the nine justices; and Michael R. Fisher with the Marion County Public Defender Agency's appellate division, who handled the case at the state level, will both participate in the moot court setting.

Stancil's brother, who teaches at the school, is the Illinois college's connection to the Indiana case. Faculty participating in the mock argument scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Central (4 p.m. Eastern) today include Leipold, professor and criminal defense attorney Steven Beckett, professor and constitutional law expert Larry Solum, and professor and legal historian Bruce Smith.

That panel will ask questions and try to replicate what they believe justices will ask later this month, Leipold said.

"We will press hard on possible weaknesses and figure out ways to help (Stancil) make his points," Leipold said.
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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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