[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in Indiana v. Edwards [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 07-208, a case in which the Court is considering whether states may adopt a higher standard for measuring competency to represent oneself at trial than for measuring competency to stand trial. Specifically, the Court is weighing whether the Indiana Supreme Court correctly ruled [opinion, PDF] that a court which found a schizophrenic defendant competent to stand trial could not subsequently deny that defendant the right to represent himself under the Sixth Amendment [text]. During arguments Wednesday, several justices suggested that the constitutional right to self-representation is not absolute, while Justice Antonin Scalia took issue with the contention that courts may be able to find a defendant competent to stand trial but not to mount his own defense. AP has more.
The Court also heard arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 07-312, a statutory interpretation case in which the Court is expected to whether an exemption from state and local transfer taxes, provided under the federal bankruptcy code for reorganization plans confirmed in court, applies only after the plan has been approved by a bankruptcy court. The case is on appeal from an April 2007 Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling [opinion, PDF]; a decision in the case could help resolve a difference of interpretation between the Eleventh Circuit and the Third and Fourth Circuits.