JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMPETENCY OF A DEFENDANT TO STAND TRIAL.
Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
The Judiciary Committee,
Rep. Jeff Currey, 11th Dist.,
Rep. Tom Delnicki, 14th Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
This concept for this bill comes to the Judiciary Committee from Representative Currey. Current Connecticut State law mandates that courts review competency of a person charged with certain serious offenses every six months to ensure that their status as not restorable remains unchanged. This mandate requires the courts to review competency of a person to continue until the time equal to the maximum penalty for the charged has elapsed. This would amend C.G.S. 54-56d to allow the court to suspend mandatory periodic reviews of an accused who has been found not competent, not restorable and has been released into the community or placed in the custody of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services or the Department of Developmental Services and would provide a judge with greater discretion in determining how frequently a defendant should be examined to determine his or her competency to stand trial.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
The Division of Criminal Justice; State of Connecticut; opposes this bill stating that it represents a step backward in their ability to monitor and protect the public safety. It was stated that current law allows for periodic examinations after an individual has been found not competent and not restorable in the context of certain serious cases, a provision that was enacted after State v Curtis. Curtis was charged with murder and deemed not competent to stand trial but was arrested and charged with manslaughter years later after he turned up as a successful college student. There is concern this bill would reverse the action of previously submitted legislation to amend the law to address the court's decision of State v. Curtis.
State of Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate, State Victim Advocate, Natasha M. Pierre, Esq.; opposes this bill stating that it is recognized that while the dilemma of holding violent offenders that cannot be restored to competency do not meet the criteria of civil commitment, this bill is not a reasonable solution. There is concern that releasing violent offenders into the community, knowing of the potential danger to the community, is irresponsible and while this issue needs to be addressed to ensure safety to all, this bill is inconsistent with Dr. Norko's working group.
State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services, Chief Public Defender, Christine Perra Rapillo,; supports this bill stating that allowing the courts to waive the review, particularly where a person's intellectual disabilities or severe/persistent mental illness make it clear that the person will not be restored to competency within the next six month period, makes sense. It is stated that this bill will eliminate unnecessary proceedings.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Executive Director, Kathy Flaherty; supports this bill stating that it would provide a judge with greater discretion in determining how frequently a defendant should be examined to determine his or her competency to stand trial, as well as permit a judge to find that regardless of treatment, a defendant will never regain competency within the maximum period of any placement. It was also stated that it would allow for better use of limited system capacity.
South Windsor, Connecticut, Resident, Diane Olmsted; supports this bill sharing that a family member, Aaron, has an inherited condition, Fragile X Syndrome, and those with this condition tend to be mentally handicapped. After assaulting a staff person from the group home where Aaron resided and thus being arrested, mandatory evaluations were ordered by the court which consequently jeopardized Aaron's behavioral stability. It is stated that there should be a change in the law for individuals who have mental disabilities from birth, resulting in the individual being non-competent and non-restorable.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: ZoŽ Gluck