In the coming days, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley will decide the fate of Guy LeGrande, a mentally ill convict who sits on death row at Raleigh's Central Prison. LeGrande's lawyers are asking for clemency because they argue that his mental illness deprived him of his right to a fair trial.
The facts surrounding the case are strange. LeGrande represented himself at the trial and performed bizzar acts of calling the jurrors "anti-christs", dressing as Superman, and making threats against the Judge, District Attorney, and witnesses. It is clear LeGrande was mentally incapable of representing himself and needed the expertise of a lawyer at his capital murder trial.
The LeGrande situtation is not an isolated incident in our court system both in North Carolina and the United States. Several inmates are mentally ill and need therapy to deal with their individual issues. However, I believe the legislatures in each state must begin to address such issues as self-representation to prevent a similar situtation from arising again.
I am calling for the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation barring individuals being charged in capital murder cases from representing themselves. I am not a legal scholar and do not know the constitutional implications of such a law, but am convinced that those being prosecuted under such statute need the protection provided to them under United States law.
Protecting the sanctity of the Judicial Process should be a goal of any elected official in the United States. By passing such legislation, general assemblies would be ensuring the fairness of our trial system. I believe it is fairness and equality that our Founding Fathers had in mind when writing our Constitution and therefore strongly advocate for a change in the capital murder statutes of our 50 states.