SCOTUS Upholds (Subject to Limits) Right to Self-Representation
Criminal defendants cannot be forced to stand trial unless they are competent. In simple terms, that means the defendant must have sufficient cognitive ability to understand the basic proceedings (which usually means understanding "the judge decides things, my lawyer is here to help me, the other lawyer isn't" etc.) and to assist in the defense. The standard isn't high.
Defendants also have the right to represent themselves if they are competent to do so. A vexing question has been whether any defendant who is competent to stand trial is also competent to represent himself, or whether some additional degree of competence is required to permit self-representation.
The Supreme Court answered that question (pdf) today in a 7-2 decison:
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