Only Justice Antonin Scalia appeared strongly on Edwards' side...
"He can plead guilty if he wishes and that's OK," Scalia said. "Only he can't put on an incompetent defense?...The state still has to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said the right to self-representation is not absolute. "It is within the state's authority to override self-representation when the defendant can't communicate coherently," Fisher said.
Scalia shot back, "I sometimes think lawyers can't communicate coherently."
March 27, 2008
At oral argument yesterday. The case, Indiana v. Edwards, asks whether a criminal defendant who is competent to stand trial has a right to represent himself if that's what he wants to do. Is there some level of sanity at which you can go to trial but be forced to yield to representation by a lawyer? Kennedy's wisecrack came in response to a point made by Edwards's lawyer: Edwards did respond comprehensibly to the judge's legal questions.