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Pro-se Prepresentation Article

Pro-se Prepresentation Article

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Published by: rabbi_josiah on Jul 09, 2008
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05/09/2014

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Electronic copy of this paper is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=901610
 
U
NIVERSITY OF
G
EORGIA 
 S
CHOOL OF
L
 AW 
 
ESEARCH
P
 APER 
S
ERIES
 
Paper No. 06-002 January 2007
Defending the Right to Self-representation: An Empirical Look at the
 Pro Se
Felony Defendant
E
RICA 
H
 ASHIMOTO
 
 Assistant Professor of Law University of Georgia School of Law hashimo@uga.edu 
Forthcoming inNorth Carolina Law Review 
This paper can be downloaded without charge from theSocial Science Research Network electronic library athttp://ssrn.com/abstract=901610 
 
Electronic copy of this paper is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=901610
HASHIMOTO
.
BKI
3.
DOC
2/5/2007
 
12:05:45
 
PM
DEFENDING THE RIGHT OF SELF-REPRESENTATION: AN EMPIRICAL LOOK ATTHE PRO SE FELONY DEFENDANT
*
 
E
RICA
J.
 
H
ASHIMOTO
**
 
Why would a criminal defendant waive the right to counsel and proceed pro se? Conventional wisdom assumes that there is no good reason for a defendant to choose self-representation, andthose who make that choice are therefore either mentally ill or  foolish. Courtroom proceedings in cases of high-profile pro sedefendants like Colin Ferguson and, more recently, ZacariasMoussaoui and John Muhammad, have only increased thedominance of this prevailing view. Even the Supreme Court hasassumed that the right of self-representation in practice hurts, rather than helps, criminal defendants. Until now, however, no empirical  study has examined the phenomenon of self-representation.This Article presents the results of the first study of pro se felonydefendants. The data undermine both the assumption that most  felony pro se defendants are ill-served by the decision to self-represent and the theory that most pro se defendants suffer frommental illness. Somewhat surprisingly, the data indicate that pro se felony defendants in state courts are convicted at rates equivalent toor lower than the conviction rates of represented felony defendants,and the vast majority of pro se felony defendants—nearly 80%—did not display outward signs of mental illness.
* Copyright © 2007 by Erica J. Hashimoto.
 
** Assistant Professor, University of Georgia School of Law, J.D. GeorgetownUniversity Law Center, A.B. Harvard College. I appreciate the helpful commentsprovided by Orin Kerr, Darryl Brown, Ron Wright, Paul Heald, James Donovan, DanCoenen, Gary Lowenthal, Anne Dupre, Walter Hellerstein, Ronald Allen, Michael Heise,and Peter Spiro. I also want to thank my research assistants, Sarah Kelman (UGA ’05),Virginia Morris (UGA ’06), and Meghan Dougherty (UGA ’07), and Dr. Jaxk Reeves,Mushtaq Ahmed, and Justin Slaughter in the UGA Statistics Department for theirvaluable assistance. An earlier draft of this Article was presented at the CumberlandSchool of Law, and comments from the faculty there proved very helpful in thedevelopment of the Article. I also benefited greatly from the patient and helpful editingof William Snyder, Jr. and the staff of the North Carolina Law Review. Finally, many of the ideas in this Article stem from my time as an Assistant Federal Public Defender inWashington, D.C., and I am indebted to my colleagues and clients there for their insightsand wisdom.
 
 
Electronic copy of this paper is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=901610
HASHIMOTO
.
BKI
3.
DOC
2/5/2007
 
12:05:45
 
PM
424
NORTH CAROLINA LAW REVIEW 
[Vol. 85
The data also suggest an alternative explanation for the pro se phenomenon. The small, self-selected group of felony defendantswho choose to represent themselves may make that choice becauseof legitimate concerns about court-appointed counsel. Without theright to represent themselves, those defendants would be in theuntenable position of being represented by inadequate counsel withno alternative. In short, the data in this Article expose the fallacy of the prevailing view of pro se felony defendants and demonstratethat the right of self-representation serves a vital role in protectingthe rights of criminal defendants. Finally, because the right is peculiarly subject to abuse, this Article suggests several modifications to the existing structure to protect the constitutional rights of defendants seeking to invoke the right of self-representation.
I
NTRODUCTION
.......................................................................................425
 
I. F
RAMING THE
I
SSUE
:
 
T
HE
D
EBATE OVER THE
C
ONSTITUTIONAL
R
IGHT OF
S
ELF
-R
EPRESENTATION
...........432
 
 A.
 
The Right Defined:
Faretta v. California...........................432
 
B.
 
Challenges to the Constitutional Right of Self-Representation and the Increasing Relevance of Empirical Data
.......................................................................434
 
C.
 
The Dearth of Empirical Evidence
......................................437
 
II. T
HE
R
ESULTS OF THE
E
MPIRICAL
S
TUDY
................................438
 
 A.
 
The Data
.................................................................................438
 
1. The Three Databases.......................................................438
 
2. Database Limitations.......................................................441
 
B.
 
The Coexistence of the Right to Due Process and theRight of Self-Representation
.................................................446
 
1. Outcomes for Pro Se
 
Felony Defendants in StateCourt.................................................................................447
 
2. Outcomes for Pro Se
 
Felony Defendants in FederalCourt.................................................................................451
 
C.
 
Furthering the Constitution’s “Basic Guarantee of Fairness”: The Benefits of Recognizing a Right of Self-Representation
........................................................................454
 
1. The Lack of Signs of Mental Illness Among ThoseRepresenting Themselves...............................................456
 
2. Autonomy Interests Served by the Right of Self-Representation................................................................460
 
a.
 
Data Suggesting Dissatisfaction with Counsel.......460
 
b.
 
Furthering the Defendant’s Autonomy Interests..463
 

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