01 February 2007

Competency Hearing

There's a man who was declared incompetent and hospitalized many years before I got to the Commonwealth Attorney's office. However, he's got it together enough that he files the right papers to make sure he gets back in front of the judge at every opportunity he is allowed. Various attorneys have been appointed to represent him in various hearings, all for naught as he is returned to the mental facility each time.

I get assigned to his latest effort to get out. The doctors come in and testify that he needs to stay in. The latest attorney appointed to represent him is hitting all the right points and asking all the right questions but it's pretty obvious this guy is not ready to be released into society. Finally, the patient exercises his right to testify. He testifies as to various and sundry things, but one thing catches my attention: he claims that the reason he lost every one of his prior hearings was because of ineffective assistance of counsel.

I know the current counsel is going to see the same complaint in a habeas or bar complaint and I also know that the attorney is doing the best job he can with the very little he has to work with. So, during my cross examination I decide to try to be a little bit helpful.

Me: "Mr. Smith, you testified before that the reason you lost in your prior hearings was because each of your prior attorneys was ineffective?"

Smith: "Yes."

Me: "And what about Mr. Green, today? Has he been effective?"

Smith: (pause)(you can see the gears turning in his brain)

Me: "I mean, hasn't he done everything he can for you? Hasn't he been effective here in court?"

Smith: (pause) Well . . . that really depends on how things turn out today.


Anonymous said...

Incompetent? This man is ready for elected office, I could see him chairing a Congressional committee.

Ken Lammers said...

Well, there were the small problems of his suicidal and homicidal ideation, but otherwise you might be right.

Kurt Hunt said...

Hi Ken! I thought you might be interested to know that I'm once again blogging at Clever WoT.

It's not likely to include much about criminal law, but I did just happen to post a Michigander's perspective of the 6th Circuit's "goddamn" arrest case.

South Florida Libertarian said...

That was pretty smart! Great strategic move! (seriously)