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Name: United States v. Ferguson
Case #: 07-50096
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/27/2009
Summary

Remand was required where competency for self-representation was determined under the pre-Edwards standard. Ferguson insisted on representing himself at trial on child pornography charges. During the proceedings, he exhibited bizarre behavior. The district court expressed a desire to deny his request to represent himself, but the law at the time compelled it to allow self-representation because Ferguson was competent to stand trial. Ferguson did very little at trial or sentencing, and he was convicted and sentenced to the statutory maximum. On appeal, Ferguson argued that the intervening Supreme Court decision in Indiana v. Edwards, required reversal because Edwards held that a different standard of competency applies when considering a request for self-representation than when considering whether a defendant may be tried at all. The appellate court reversed and remanded. In light of Edwards, the district court applied an erroneous legal standard. Ferguson’s actions suggest that he might have been unable to carry out the basic tasks needed to present his own defense, and his failure to defend himself seriously jeopardized the fairness of the trial and sentencing. Since it could not be determined whether the district court would have operated differently with the benefit of Edwards, remand was required for the limited purpose of determining whether Edwards would have affected the district court’s determinations.