Tuesday, November 01, 2005

US Supremes: Pro Se Not Guaranteed Law Library Access

A right to law library access is not clearly established, nor is there any specific legal aid owed to a pro se criminal defendant by a State, according to the U.S. Supreme Court per curiam opinion in Kane v. Espitia. The Court noted that appellate circuits were split as to whether Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), "which establishes a Sixth Amendment right toself-representation, implies a right of the pro se defendant to have access to a law library." The opinion notes our own Sixth Circuit's opinion in United States v. Smith, 907 F.2d 42 (6th Cir. 1990), which found that a pro se waives access to a law library when he waives his right to counsel.

The Court commented that, by electing to be pro se, Espitia "had declined, as was his right, to be represented by a lawyer with unlimited access to legal materials."

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