State v. Evans

In State v. Evans, 125 Ariz. 401, 610 P.2d 35 (1980), the major issue was whether the defendant who was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic but competent to stand trial could waive his right to counsel even after the "judge had warned the defendant of the dangers of proceeding without the benefit of counsel but he elected to represent himself." Id. at 402, 610 P.2d at 36. The court stated that the mental health diagnosis "does not mean that the defendant was unable to make competent choices." Id. at 403, 610 P.2d at 37. The court found that "one of the psychiatrists who examined the defendant stated that the defendant understood the nature of the proceedings against him and in fact at the time of his arrest understood his Miranda rights well enough to request consultation with counsel before making any statements." Id. In fact, the court stated that "an understanding of the right to remain silent until counsel is obtained indicates comprehension of constitutional rights and the role of counsel." Id. The court then found that "a careful examination of the psychiatric reports and the testimony adduced at the hearing . . . reveals that the defendant was competent to make the decision to waive counsel; . . . there was no complaint by advisory counsel, of any deterioration in the defendant's mental condition from the time of his competency hearing to . . . trial." Id. Before concluding that the defendant had knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel, the Evans court noted that one of the examining psychiatrists indicated that defendant knew the function of a jury, was knowledgeable about plea bargaining, knew about his prior convictions and understood the nature of the rape charge. Id. "The totality of the record supports the conclusion that the waiver of counsel was knowledgeable, and the defendant was competent when he made the waiver." Id. at 404, 610 P.2d at 38.