Nebraska Supreme Court Hears The Case of The Man Not Fighting the Death Penalty

Patrick Schroeder, right, is escorted from the Johnson County District Court in April 2018. (Photo by Bill Kelly, NET News)
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October 30, 2019 - 3:48pm

The Nebraska Supreme Court Wednesday morning heard the case of a man on death row who doesn’t oppose the state’s plan to sentence him to death.


Even as he faces a death sentence, Patrick Schroeder doesn’t want to be represented in a court of law. He is convicted of two separate homicides and for the first time, the defendant is not fighting Nebraska’s decision to sentence him to death.

“Mr. Schroeder elected to basically just sit there and let the train hit him,” said Sarah Newell, the attorney who Schroeder allowed to speak on his behalf as she appeared before the Nebraska Supreme Court Wednesday.

Newell proposed in the rare cases when death penalty defendants don’t want an attorney, there needs to be added safeguards.

Nebraska solicitor general James Smith represented the state. He said not allowing death penalty defendants to represent themselves would be unconstitutional.

“I think the defendant also has the right to choose the course of his defense, constitutionally," Smith said. "He also has the constitutional right to represent himself.”

The Supreme Court is expected to complete its review of Schroeder's death penalty sentence early next year.

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