Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Competency" Continues to Engage Courts, Forensic Psychiatry Experts

Credit: Gl0ck/shutterstock
Jared L. Loughner, accused in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that seriously injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead, was ruled incompetent to stand trial by Federal Judge Larry A. Burns on Wednesday. Before the ruling, Loughner was dragged screaming from the courtroom in Tucson after disrupting the hearing; he watched the rest of the proceedings on a monitor in a holding cell. The court heard testimony from two expert witnesses that Mr. Loughner suffered from schizophrenia.
   Legal standards around “competency” continue to engage the courts and experts in psychiatry and the law. For instance, a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that competence of criminal defendants to represent themselves in a trial, rather than have an attorney represent them, is separate from competence to stand trial and could require a psychiatric evaluation separate from the evaluation of competence to stand trial. For more information see Psychiatric News,


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