Mentally Ill Defendant May Be Forced To Have Lawyer: High Court


States may require a criminal defendant who suffers from a mental illness to have a lawyer, rather than allowing the individual to act as his own defense counsel, even when the individual is competent enough to be tried, the Supreme Court ruled today, according to ScotusBlog.

The 7-2 decision came in the case of Ahmad Edwards, who was caught trying to steal shoes from an Indiana department store in 1999. He then fired shots, and was charged with attempted murder. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by all justices except Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Breyer said the Constitution permits judges to take “realistic account” of particular defendants’ mental capacities.


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