Friday, December 19, 2008

Lawyers believe Sheley fit for trial.

UPDATE 12/24/2008
First, I want to wish all readers of katfish.... ponders a happy holiday season, however you celebrate...Christmas, Hanukka, Kawanzaa,..?...and my wish for you all is to have a blessed and prosperous year in 2009.
Second, I want to apologize for not getting my entry posted from Sheley's fitness hearing yet. My personal life has been quite busy the last few days....I thought I'd be able to get the entry posted right after the hearing but t'was not to be. I have it about half way done (stealing a moment here and there) I have about 30 people coming in 3 hope is to complete the entry tonight after they leave. me...I have cookies and milk! LOL
The hearing was quite interesting and I have a lot to say....Sheley was found fit to stand trial, but the issue of him representing himself wasn't resolved. 8-(

Below is an article as it appeared in The Register-Mail on Thursday, December 18. My thoughts follow Susan's article.

The Register-Mail
The attorneys for Nicholas Sheley don’t doubt their client’s fitness to stand trial.
In a notice filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court, attorneys Jim Harrell and Jeremy Karlin wrote their decision was based on two evaluations of Sheley — a court ordered evaluation conducted by Dr. Terry Killian, and an unspecified independent evaluation.

The evaluations were ordered to determine Sheley’s competency to stand trial and possibly represent himself. A hearing is scheduled Monday to determine if Sheley will be able to fire his attorneys and represent himself — a desire he has expressed in previous hearings.

A gag order remains in effect until Sheley’s competency is determined.
Sheley faces the death penalty in Knox County if convicted of the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall. Sheley also is charged with killing seven other people in two states.
A case management hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 31.

katfish here:

The United States Supreme Court issued a decision on a case, Indiana v. Edwards, on June 19, 2008. In a 7-2 opinion, the Court held that the Constitution does not forbid states from insisting upon representation for those competent to stand trial but who suffer from severe mental illness to the point where they are not competent to conduct trial proceedings by themselves.

In order to be found competent to stand trial, it must be determined that a defendant has the ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him or to assist in his defense, or both. He must also have the ability to knowingly and intelligently appreciate his right to legal representation in a trial and appreciate the right to wave that right.

Because of Indiana v. Edwards, that criteria is expanded when the defendant wishes to represent himself. The person doing the evaluation, in this case Dr. Terry Killian, M.D., should address the defendant's ability for:

  • Reviewing voluminous discovery in written, audio, and visual format
  • Organizing this discovery in a meaningful way
  • Ability to think coherently, objectively and without delusions
  • Ability to maintain temper
  • Ability to recount relevant facts
  • Ability to understand courtroom developments
  • Ability to maintain focus for hours at a time
  • Ability to formulate and express thoughts in a coherent and logical manner both verbally and in written form
  • Proper motivation to represent himself
  • Cognition, perception, concentration and information processing
  • Ability to think on one's feet

The criteria I noted above are a "cliff notes" version of the Fitness Order issued by Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart on October 27. The first page of the fitness order addresses the competency to stand trial and the second page addresses the defendant's ability to represent himself and instruction if defendant is not fit to stand trial. You can download or print these documents for free at DocStoc, just follow the links I embeded above.

As Susan stated in her article, since Sheley's attorneys have filed notice with the court that they don't doubt their client's fitness to stand trial, Monday's hearing will be about Sheley's motion to represent himself. It's not my call but I think he would be wise to keep his attorneys....kind of like a might not like them but at least they know what they're doing.

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