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. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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