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U.S. v. KLAT

July 13, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SUSAN VIOLA KLAT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lamberth, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a further evidentiary hearing and determination. See United States v. Klat, 156 F.3d 1258 (D.C.Cir. 1998). After holding that permitting a defendant to appear pro se at a competency hearing violates the Sixth Amendment's right-to-counsel provision, the Court of Appeals remanded the case for "an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the competency hearing could have come out differently if the defendant had been represented at the hearing." Id. at 1260. Importantly, the Court of Appeals reached this decision notwithstanding defendant's repeated demands that this court observe her constitutional right to represent herself pro se as seen in the following passage:

    The Court: The first step is whether you're going
  to proceed pro se before me. You've been indicted by
  a grand jury. This is the first I know of this case.
  I'm going to decide how the case proceeds before me.
    Now, you said that Mr. Howard [, appointed
  counsel,] had been removed from the case. You don't
  have the power to remove him from the case before —

Ms. Klat: The Sixth Amendment —

The Court: Would you listen —

Ms. Klat: — allows me to represent myself.

The Court: to me? I understand that.

    And if you'll listen to me, I'll let you speak when
  I finish speaking.

Ms. Klat: Okay.

    The Court: Okay. You don't have the power to remove
  him from the case.
    The Court decides that question. You have the power
  to say you don't want him, and if you don't want him
  and I go through your rights with you, and I decide
  that you have the right to represent yourself —
   Ms. Klat: Okay. Go ahead. I'm listening.
    The Court: Before I decide whether I'm going to
  allow [Mr. Howard to withdraw], I want to make sure
  you understand your rights.
    As you just said, you have a right to represent
  yourself. If I were charged with a serious crime like
  this, as you are, I would not represent myself. I
  would want independent advice to assist me. If I find
  that you're competent, you can make that decision
  yourself. I must say, I think that people in your
  situation raise a question about your competence.
    Ms. Klat: I understand what you're saying. . . .
  Title 16, Section 1654, appearance personally, states
  I may represent myself. The Sixth Amendment to the
  Constitution of the United States allows me to
  represent myself.
    The Court: I'm not saying you don't know the rules.
  I'm saying that if I were in ...

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