My name is Dennis Solo McKeithan, and I like to speak to you today about the Sixth Amendment of the United States of America Constitution.
You know, the Sixth Amendment guarantees us the right to self-representation. The Philadelphia court found it in their power to deny this right. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, every prisoner has a right to represent himself unless he’s found unfit to do so, which would mean that he would have to be given what is called the Grazier hearing. Well most recently, I filed a post-conviction stating that I will represent myself and no lawyer was needed or wanted. The courts, on their own and unbeknownst to me, appointed an attorney to represent me, when in reality this attorney was representing them, because I knew nothing about him until time later when this attorney contacted me and informed me that they were filing a motion to dismiss my post-conviction because they didn’t think that it had merit, but even if it did have merit that they felt I had filed it too late. All of this was in violation of my rights, because the courts had already found that I had filed my petition timely under the [inaudible] law, which was dealing with mandatory sentences.
Because throughout my 35 years of incarceration I’ve dealt with a serious pattern of ineffective and callous counsel, I knew that my only chance would be to represent myself. The courts knew that this was my better chance, so they never gave me the Grazier hearing, because the Grazier hearing would have shown that I was more than qualified to represent myself due to the fact that I had recently represented myself to three civil actions against the DOC, which I won, and I have represented myself in a criminal action in [inaudible] county which I also won. So therefore they appointed what is labeled a defense attorney to represent me when, in reality, this defense attorney was acting as another arm of the prosecution. My only chance to secure my freedom is the one day get in the courtroom to present my case, and appointing that effective counsel and counsel that has not been requested or wanted, is their only way to keep me out of the courtroom, because once I get in the courtroom, they will have to address my issues, and my issues is that I’ve been doing it an illegal sentence for the past 35 years.
I’ve been in prison for a crime I didn’t commit for the past 35 years. I’ve been innocent of being a career offender, I’ve been innocent of the crime, but none of these issues has ever been addressed, because they have found ways to cheat me out of the courtroom, including the clerk of courts, claiming that they never even received my notices. I asked that people look into how many other people have been denied this basic right of self-representation, because ever since the case of Commonwealth versus Africa has been without question a guaranteed right unless they can show that you are incompetent to do so. This is about the Sixth Amendment.