Ashley N. Beck


The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant both the right to the assistance of counsel and the right of self-representation. The right of self-representation is deeply ingrained in the Anglo- American system of justice, but so is the requirement that a criminal defendant be tried only if competent to stand trial. In Indiana v. Edwards, the Supreme Court recognized a "gray area" of competency, noting that competency to stand trial with the assistance of counsel may not equate to competency to proceed pro se. In Edwards, the Court held that a trial court retains the discretion to appoint and does not violate a defendant's Sixth Amendment right when it appoints counsel over a "gray-area" defendant's objection. The Court, however, did not articulate a standard for assessing competency to proceed pro se. This Note demonstrates why a heightened competency standard is necessary and articulates a heightened standard for courts to apply when confronted with a defendant who wishes to proceed pro se, but may not be competent to do so.