Forfeiture-by-Wrongdoing and Faretta: Reaffirming Counsel’s Vital Role When Defendants Manipulate Competing Sixth Amendment Representation Rights

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Just a few weeks before his trial on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy, criminal defendant John Paul Hansen filed a motion with the federal district court presiding over his case requesting “some form of hybrid counsel.” Hansen requested to represent himself, at least in part, so he could challenge the court’s authority over him in ways his appointed counsel would not. Hansen’s true intent was not to waive his right to the assistance of counsel. Indeed, Hansen never elected to represent himself even after being advised of his right to do so, and in pre-trial hearings, Hansen made clear that he did not desire to engage in certain aspects of the litigation, including cross-examining witnesses or filing certain motions. Rather, Hansen’s primary objective was simply to make arguments regarding the court’s authority that his attorney rightly refused to make. In short, Hansen did not wish to fully represent himself, nor did he wish to be fully represented by counsel. What he desired was hybrid representation, which, unlike the right to counsel and the right to self-representation, is not a constitutional right.

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