Hart v. Warden, New Hampshire State PrisonAnnotate this Case
Petitioner Kenneth Hart appealed a superior court order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was incompetent to waive his right to counsel and represent himself at trial and on appeal following his convictions of multiple felonies in February 2000. In 1998, the petitioner was arrested and charged with two alternative counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA), one count of witness tampering, and one count of resisting arrest. Prior to trial, the petitioner was provided with court-appointed counsel, but he dismissed three of these attorneys and moved to represent himself at trial. The State objected and, after a hearing on the motion, the Trial Court ruled that “a ‘bona fide and legitimate doubt’ exists as to the [petitioner’s] current competency to stand trial and particularly his ability to clearly and effectively waive his constitutional right to counsel” and ordered that the petitioner submit to a psychiatric evaluation. Upon review of the record of the trial court’s colloquy with petitioner, the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the habeas court’s finding and, thus, the trial court’s conclusion, that petitioner understood the implications of waiving his right to counsel and knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. Thus, petitioner has not met his burden of establishing a fundamental error of law or fact necessary to obtain writ relief.