State v. Kuncik
In the 2009 case of State v. Connor, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that "upon a finding that a mentally ill or mentally incapacitated defendant is competent to stand trial and to waive his right to counsel at that trial, the trial court must make another determination, that is, whether the defendant also is competent to conduct the trial proceedings without counsel." Following a jury trial, Mark Kuncik was convicted of interfering with a police officer, operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended and reckless driving. He appealed claiming that the trial court abused its discretion in permitting him to proceed as a self-represented party at trial and sought, under the Appellate Court's supervisory powers, to have his case remanded for a competency hearing. The Appellate Court declined to exercise its supervisory powers and affirmed the judgments. The defendant argued that his pattern of behavior and comments during pretrial proceedings and at trial demonstrated that he was not competent to represent himself and that he did not adequately grasp the issues pertinent to the proceedings. The claim was not properly preserved, and the defendant did not seek review under the 1989 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Golding or the plain error doctrine. The Supreme Court in Conner established, pursuant to its supervisory powers, the heightened standard for competency in order for a defendant to represent himself and remanded the case because the U.S. Supreme Court's related 2008 decision in Indiana v. Edwards had not been decided and the trial court "had no alternative…but to permit the defendant to represent himself once it was determined that he was competent to stand trial." Conversely, all of the proceedings in this case occurred after Edwards and Connor. The trial court was required to make a determination under the heightened standard in Connor and was presumed to have done so. The defendant was canvassed in depth by multiple judges on numerous occasions and was repeatedly permitted to proceed as a self represented party with standby counsel. This was not the "rare circumstance" where the court's supervisory powers could be invoked.