The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to representation by counsel. In 1975, the Supreme Court held that the structure of the Sixth Amendment necessarily implies that a defendant in a state criminal trial has a constitutional right to proceed without counsel when he voluntarily and intelligently elects to do so. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975). Thus, an unwilling defendant may not be compelled by the State to accept the assistance of a lawyer. A defendant's right to self-represenatation in federal criminal proceedings is codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1654.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has also been involved with issues related to self-representation. In 2008, the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access was presented to the Chicago-Kent College of Law Center for Access to Justice & Technology for making justice more accessible to the public through the use of the Internet in teaching, legal practice and public access to the law. Their A2J Author Project is a software tool that empowers those from the courts, legal services programs and educational institutions to create guided interviews resulting in document assembly, electronic filing and data collection. Viewers using A2J to go through a guided interview are led down a virtual pathway to the courthouse. As they answer simple questions about their legal issue, the technology then "translates" the answers to create, or assemble, the documents that are needed for filing with the court.
This constraint exists because lawsuit funding companies need a mechanism to be repaid when the case settles. As a trustee, the attorney after paying him or herself, is "trusted" to honor the existing liens on the case. In general a lawsuit funding company will not be comfortable relying on a plaintiff to repay without an attorney having the responsibility to distribute case proceeds.
Any waiver of the right to counsel must be knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. The Faretta court stated that "a defendant need not have the skill and experience of a lawyer, but should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that he knows what he is doing and "the choice is made with eyes open." See Faretta. In 2004, the Court acknowledged that it has not prescribed any formula regarding the information a defendant must possess in order to make an intelligent choice. See Iowa v. Tovar, 541 U.S. 77 (2004). According to the Court, determining whether a waiver of counsel is intelligent depends on "a range of case-specific factors, including the defendant's education or sophistication, the complex or easily grasped nature of the charge, and the stage of the proceeding." See Tovar.
From the prison library, Gideon appealed to the United States Supreme Court, stating that, because he was denied counsel, his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. In its 1963 ruling, the Supreme Court held that representation by counsel, even by defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney, is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. The opinion further stated that, because the Sixth Amendment does not distinguish between capital and non-capital offenses, the services of an attorney must be provided for an impoverished defendant in all criminal cases.
Capitalism has a peculiar, contradictory relationship to trust. According to one way of thinking about it, if everyone’s looking out for their own interest, they’ll trust people as far as they can throw them, sleep with one eye open, because everyone’s out to screw you over. It’s not like there are communal bonds or family ties for people to rely on in most commercial interactions. But in everyday life, people are remarkably trusting. People go out and buy things from strangers, make and take loans, and don’t read the fine print. Capitalism depends on baseline trust to keep running. It may depend a whole lot more on a legal system and men with guns—but it needs some level of confidence to stop people from being misers hiding money in mattresses, or even for those misers to think that money is worth hiding in a mattress in the first place.
A manipulation check confirmed that participants in the experimental condition identified with their chosen value and found meaning through the writing exercise as compared to the control group. Affirmed participants strongly agreed that the value they wrote about was important to their self-identity (M = 5.67; SD = 0.39), while control participants disagreed (M = 3.40, SD = 0.93) [F(1,73) = 196.32, p < 0.0005], indicating that affirmed participants found personal value in their topic.
Some federal courts of appeals allow unrepresented litigants to argue orally (even so nonargument disposition is still possible), and in all courts the percentage of cases in which argument occurs is higher for counseled cases. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a rule that all persons arguing orally must be attorneys, although the Supreme Court claims it was simply codifying a "long-standing practice of the court." The last non-attorney to argue orally before the Supreme Court was Sam Sloan in 1978.