Legislature(1995 - 1996)
1996-05-01 House JournalFull Journal pdf
1996-05-01 House Journal Page 4202 SB 321 The following, which was advanced to third reading from the April 30, 1996, calendar (page 4161), was read the third time: 1996-05-01 House Journal Page 4203 SB 321 HOUSE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 321(JUD) An Act relating to incompetency to stand trial. Representative Toohey rose to a point of order regarding inappropriate remarks. The Speaker cautioned the member. The question being: Shall HCS SB 321(JUD) pass the House? The roll was taken with the following result: HCS SB 321(JUD) Third Reading Final Passage YEAS: 27 NAYS: 10 EXCUSED: 0 ABSENT: 3 Yeas: Austerman, Barnes, Bunde, G.Davis, Foster, Grussendorf, Hanley, Ivan, Kelly, Kohring, Kott, Long, Martin, Masek, Moses, Mulder, Nicholia, Ogan, Parnell, Phillips, Porter, Rokeberg, Sanders, Toohey, Vezey, Williams, Willis Nays: Brice, Brown, Davies, B.Davis, Elton, Finkelstein, James, Navarre, Robinson, Therriault Absent: Green, Kubina, Mackie And so, HCS SB 321(JUD) passed the House. Representative Porter moved and asked unanimous consent that the House adopt the following letter of intent: The requirement that a defendant be mentally competent to stand trial does not mean that low intelligence or mental deficiency is enough to escape responsibility for criminal conduct. Nor does bizarre, volatile and irrational behavior necessarily mean that a given individual is incompetent to stand trial. A defendant need not have a complete understanding of legal nuances in order to understand the nature of the proceedings. The ability to comprehend the significance of a trial and the defendant's relation to it is sufficient. A defendant possesses a sufficient understanding of the 1996-05-01 House Journal Page 4204 SB 321 criminal process if the defendant understands that the prosecutor has alleged that the defendant engaged in conduct against the criminal law, that the prosecutor will attempt to convince a judge or jury that the defendant engaged in that conduct, that witnesses will tell the judge and jury what they know about the alleged criminal conduct, that the judge or jury will listen to the witnesses and decide whether the defendant did what the prosecutor alleged, and that the defendant's attorney will attempt to persuade the judge or jury to the contrary. A defendant understands the difference between a not guilty plea and a guilty plea if the defendant understands that a not guilty plea means the defendant is claiming the defendant did not do what the prosecutor is alleging and that a guilty plea means that the defendant is admitting that he or she did what the prosecutor is alleging. An understanding of the plea of nolo contendere is not a requirement for competency. The fact that defendant does not believe that the consequences of being found guilty will occur does not render the person unable to understand what the possible consequences are. A defendant can rationally assist in the defense if the defendant can remember and discuss basic information coherently. A defendant's inability to recall the facts surrounding the alleged offense does not necessarily lead to a finding of incompetence to stand trial. Moreover, the fact that a defendant rambles or digresses during discussions with counsel does not mean he or she cannot adequately assist in the defense. Competent defendants will on occasion ramble. Counsel can focus discussions by interrupting the defendant or asking more direct questions. A defendant can assist counsel even if the defendant's views are not consistent with the evidence or the most plausible explanation for the evidence. Mentally competent individuals often advance versions of the facts which conflict with the state's evidence, even when the state's evidence of the defendant's guilt is overwhelming. A defendant need not present consistent testimony in order to be capable of assisting in the defense. All that is required is the defendant be able to confer coherently with counsel and provide necessary information. The fact that a psychiatrist or defense counsel or judge thinks the defendant is taking positions adverse to his interests or is not acting in his or her best interest is insufficient to render a defendant incompetent to stand trial. Defendants often take positions that their attorneys 1996-05-01 House Journal Page 4205 SB 321 thinks are wrong-headed, and the fact that they make decisions which are contrary to their best interests does not render them incompetent to stand trial. A person cannot be judged incompetent simply for rejecting the advice of an attorney. Many mentally competent defendants distrust lawyers and the legal system. Therefore, a defendant's refusal to cooperate with counsel does not render the defendant unable to assist in the defense unless the defendant's refusal is the product of the mental disease or defect. Representative Brice objected. The question being: Shall the House letter of intent be adopted? The roll was taken with the following result: HCS SB 321(JUD) Letter of Intent YEAS: 33 NAYS: 5 EXCUSED: 0 ABSENT: 2 Yeas: Austerman, Barnes, Bunde, B.Davis, G.Davis, Elton, Foster, Grussendorf, Hanley, Ivan, James, Kelly, Kohring, Kott, Long, Mackie, Martin, Masek, Moses, Mulder, Nicholia, Ogan, Parnell, Phillips, Porter, Robinson, Rokeberg, Sanders, Therriault, Toohey, Vezey, Williams, Willis Nays: Brice, Brown, Davies, Finkelstein, Navarre Absent: Green, Kubina And so, the House letter of intent was adopted. Representative Navarre gave notice of reconsideration of his vote on HCS SB 321(JUD).