Interesting competency procedural issue: conviction reversed

28 Nov

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Court of Appeal reversed a conviction today on an issue the defendant did not initially raise on appeal. D claimed there was not sufficient evidence he was competent after the trial court ruled otherwise. The Court of Appeal held that the real issue was whether the trial court erred in ruling on the ultimate issue of competency without first ruling on whether there was evidence of a doubt of competency. If there was, then the court was to proceed to a full blown trial on competency.

The COA said in actuality the trial court held a hearing on the ultimate issue of competency, missing the first step, and the hearing denied D of due process because he wasn’t allowed to present witnesses or prepare to cross the appointed expert.

I don’t want to make light of someone’s mental illness but I will note that the defendant’s delusion seems pretty pretty pretty understandable and I can’t say he’s alone in having it:

“Defendant explained to Dr. Leeb that when he looked at the prosecutor, he saw “this evil darkness, like an attacking vampire. I get so scared I can‟t sit at the table. I‟m jerking all around. I wanted to dive under the table. I won‟t go into the courtroom.”
Dr. Leeb continued, “When [defendant] stated, I see this evil darkness,‟ he shrank down into his chair, his eyes went wide, and you can [sic] see the fear response on his face, and his voice got high and he says [sic]…I‟m not going to go in there,‟ and he went like this with his arms (indicating), in what appeared to be a protective gesture.” Dr. Leeb then demonstrated the “attacking vampire,” as defendant had described how he saw the prosecutor.”

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