Friday, March 27, 2009

U.S. v. Ferguson (9th Cir. - March 27, 2009)

What does one do with a defendant who's (1) mentally competent to stand trial (under our incredibly lax standards in that regard); (2) wants to represent himself; and (3) is capable of only utter gibberish in his attempt to do (2)?

Like Judge Spencer Letts, I've never seen anyone who was so uniformly freakishly out of it as this defendant. Just a classic nutjob. And unlike the panel, I don't have any doubt that the defendant was fruity. That one of the pyschologists examining him thought that he was malingering is an indictment of the pyschologist, not the defendant. Of that I'm pretty confident. This guy was (and presumably remains) a legal nutjob; i.e., incapable of doing anything substantive to defend himself other than mutter utterly irrelevant phrases.

Classic refrains from the defendant: "I’ve requested these following six duties: One, request that the judge issue me the appearance bond so that I may enter a plea; two, not to argue the facts; three, request the judge close all accounts; four, request the judge waive all public charges by the exemption in accordance to public
policy; and, five, request the judge present me with the order of the court; and, six, request the judge release me." Yeah. That makes sense. Another one: "Well, your honor, I fully accept the charges for value and for consideration. And I ask that these charges, these accounts be closed out and settled by the exemption in accordance to public policy,” and when the court responds that it " ha[s] no idea what he’s talking about,” defendant answers with reference to “House Joint Resolution 192, public law 73-10, and UCC 3-419.” Oh yeah. The Uniform Commercial Code. That totally helps things. I definitely get how that's relevant to a charge that you videotaped yourself molesting your four-year old neighbor. You're a regular Clarence Freaking Darrow.

What to do with nutty defendants. Not an easy question. At all.