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U.S. v. KLAT
July 13, 1999
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
SUSAN VIOLA KLAT, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lamberth, District Judge.
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.
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
The Court: I'm not saying you don't know the rules.
I'm saying that if I were in ...
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