Tuesday, July 06, 2010

U.S. v. Johnson (9th Cir. - July 6, 2010)

Welcome back from your July Fourth holiday, Mssrs. Johnson and Heineman. You'll be happy to learn that the Ninth Circuit now has a decision in your appeal.

Though I don't think you'll especially appreciate what Judge Silverman has to say about you. Because he's not exactly pulling any punches:

"Defendants Kurt F. Johnson and Dale Scott Heineman were indicted for conspiracy and multiple counts of mail fraud related to their illegitimate debt-elimination business. They were adamant in their desire to represent themselves and assert an absurd legal theory wrapped up in Uniform Commercial Code gibberish. Both defendants were examined by a psychiatrist and found to have no diagnosable mental disorder. . . . The judge practically begged them to accept counsel but they refused. The district court found that the defendants were competent to represent themselves and that such was their constitutional right. Defendants now contend that Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164 (2008), decided by the Supreme Court after their trial concluded, required the
district court to terminate their self-representation because of what they describe as their “nonsensical” legal “antics” after the trial began. They say they may have been competent to
stand trial but not to represent themselves.

The record clearly shows that the defendants are fools, but that is not the same as being incompetent. Under both Faretta and Edwards, they had the right to represent themselves and
go down in flames if they wished, a right the district court was required to respect. There was no legal or medical basis to foist a lawyer on them against their will."

Not exactly mincing words.