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Psychiatr Serv. 2008 Oct;59(10):1096-8. doi: 10.1176/

"A fool for a client?" Mental illness and the right of self-representation.

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Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Does the Constitution require a trial court to allow an obviously impaired man to represent himself? This column discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Indiana v. Edwards, which allows states to limit a defendant's right to self-representation when the individual lacks the mental capacity to conduct a trial defense unless represented. Previous cases bearing on the decision are discussed, including Dusky v. U.S. in 1960, which set the standard for competence to stand trial; Faretta v. California in 1975, which established the right of criminal defendants to represent themselves; and Godinez v. Moran in 1993, which upheld the Dusky standard for trial-related competence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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