Maine’s highest court has ruled that a Scarborough man forfeited his constitutional right to an attorney as he faced trial in 2014 for robbery.

In a decision dated Feb. 25, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied the appeal by Joshua Nisbet, 38, whose uncooperative and threatening behavior toward defense attorneys prompted all of them to ask for dismissal.

After threatening his fourth and fifth appointed attorneys, a Superior Court Justice ruled that Nisbet had forfeited his right to an attorney and then ordered him to represent himself, even though he had no legal training.

Oral arguments in the case were made last fall. It was the first of its kind in Maine.

At that time, legal experts warned that the ruling could have broad implications for all criminal defendants in Maine who cannot afford to hire their own attorney. They said it could effectively set a precedent that weakens citizens’ constitutional guarantees under the Sixth Amendment to legal assistance in criminal prosecutions.

This story will be updated.


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