Faretta v. California 422 U.S. 806 (1975)

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FARETTA v. CALIFORNIA 422 U.S. 806 (1975)

In Faretta the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a defendant forced to accept the services of a public defender in a felony case, holding that the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to self-representation when a defendant "knowingly and intelligently" requests it.

This is a major decision about the waiver of constitutional rights because the argument of the state and the dissent was that society has an interest in a fair trial, independent of the defendant's desires. Recognition of such an interest would necessarily mean that the trial judge must have discretion to reject even a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel.

Standby counsel may be appointed over the defendant's objection to aid him should he request help at the trial, or to intervene if the termination of self-representation becomes necessary.

Barbara Allen Babcock