January 11, 2021 Mental Health

Determining Trial Competency Is a Prerequisite, Not an Option

Eric Y. Drogin

The very first installment of this column addressed prospects for “bringing social scientific issues to the court’s attention.” Sometimes the court will welcome such input as an opportunity to goose matters along, pointedly encouraging pretrial negotiations and telegraphing an openness to endorse settlement. A decidedly different attitude can emerge, however, when mental health notions are seen as a source of potentially interminable delay. Let’s examine how defense counsel might consult with a reputable forensic psychologist when the court’s patience with the pace of trial competency assessment is in notably short supply.

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