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McKaskle v. Wiggins

United States Supreme Court
465 U.S. 168 (1984)


Carl Wiggins (defendant) was convicted of robbery and sentenced to life in prison, but because of a faulty indictment, Wiggins's conviction was set aside, and he was granted a new trial. Two months before his second trial began, Wiggins filed a request for the court to appoint him counsel. The court appointed an attorney to represent him. A month later, Wiggins filed another request for counsel to be appointed, and the court appointed him another attorney. However, during pretrial proceedings for the second trial, Wiggins said he would be defending himself pro se and asked that counsel not be allowed to interfere with his presentations to the court. Throughout Wiggins's trial, he kept changing his mind about whether he wanted the assistance of his standby counsel. At times, Wiggins said he wanted no assistance, but at other times, Wiggins consulted with his counsel and allowed them to question witnesses and make statements on his behalf. The jury convicted Wiggins, and he moved for a new trial, arguing that his standby counsel had unfairly interfered with his presentation of his defense. After exhausting his state appeals and state habeas corpus review, Wiggins filed a federal habeas corpus petition. The district court denied his petition, but the appellate court reversed, concluding that Wiggins's Sixth Amendment right to represent himself was violated by his standby counsels' interference in the proceedings. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

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