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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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