CASE STUDY: Leon Keller

| May 17, 2017
  1. CASE STUDY: Leon Keller was facing a charge of driving under the influence in Sometown. Police had pulled him over after he crossed the yellow line, and he had failed a field sobriety test. Tests confirmed his blood-alcohol levels were above the legal limit, and so he had been charged. This was the first time he had been arrested and charged with a crime.
    Keller, a 50-year-old man with a strong distrust of the legal system, did not want to hire an attorney. Instead, he wished to defend himself. In his mind, he had a solid defense. Keller was a man of above-average intelligence, who did not suffer from mental illness. He had attended college, but did not graduate.
    At his arraignment, he told Judge Jet that he wished to waive his right to counsel.
    “Are you sure, Mr. Keller?” Judge Jet asked.
    “Yes, Your Honor. I would like to defend myself against these charges.”
    There was nothing to suggest that Leon Keller lacked the mental competence to defend himself. Judge Jet proceeded to give Keller a very stern warning about the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation. She asked him several questions about his education and then several more about any experience he had with the criminal justice system. Once Keller had answered her questions, she again asked him if he was absolutely sure of his decision. Keller answered that he was.
    Judge Jet expressed her reservations but allowed Leon Keller to represent himself at trial. As a precaution, she appointed standby counsel.

    • What determination does a judge need to make before a defendant is allowed to represent himself or herself?
    • Did Judge Jet satisfy the requirements in the case of Leon Keller?
    • What Supreme Court decision established the right to represent oneself? What was the Court’s reasoning?
  2. Explain what crimes indigent defendants have the right to the appointment of counsel. Do you agree with this? What would happen if there were no standards in place to provide representation to the indigent?
  3. There are two ways in which unnecessary suggestiveness can be injected into a pretrial witness identification. List and explain the ways, and provide examples to illustrate.
  4. Which of the three witness identification procedures can be challenged under the due process clause? Explain why this is this important for police officers to understand, and how these procedures surface in conjunction with police work.

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