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Competency To Proceed

…whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.
Dusky v. U.S. (1960) 362 US 402.

Competence to Stand Trial

One of the primary foundations of criminal law is that all defendants have a right to a fair trial. In addition, criminal defendants must be capable of actively participating in their defense. However, for some defendants, mental health problems or cognitive deficits hinder their ability to participate in the proceedings. It is estimated between 2% and 8% of all felony defendants are referred for competency evaluations. Minneapolis psychologist, Dr. Alberta provides the lawyer with an evaluation of trial competence. His evaluation is based on the Dusky Standard and incorporates the Drope requirement of “otherwise assist with one’s defense.”

For example, Dr. Alberta translates the Dusky Standard into psycholegal capacities of competence-relevant abilities such as

  • understanding
  • appreciation
  • reasoning
  • consulting with counsel
  • assisting in one’s defense
  • decision-making ability

Next, he uses Forensic and Clinical Assessment Techniques to operationalize and quantify the competence-relevant abilities. The results of this process provide the substance of Dr. Alberta’s Forensic Psychological Report in competency to proceed cases.