Interesting competency procedural issue case today

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. 

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.”

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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