This Comment argues that an unarticulated, heightened standard of competency to waive counsel, under which Washington currently operates, is the ideal standard to address the unique concerns that exist in civil- commitment proceedings. This Comment clarifies the existing law governing the determination of a party’s right to waive counsel, as well as the determination of the validity of such a waiver. This Comment also articulates a comprehensive inquiry standard for trial courts, both within and outside of Washington, to apply when determining the competency of a party and the validity of a waiver. The goal of this express determination standard is to create from existing law a series of questions to be used during a colloquy between the trial judge and the party seeking to waive counsel, thus ensuring an adequate evidentiary record on which the court can base its determination.
Jacob J. Stender, Protect Me From Myself: Determining Competency to Waive the Right to Counsel During Civil-Commitment Proceedings in Washington State, 35 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 973 (2012).