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Hearing to Be Held on Defendant’s Competence - 25 Years Ago

Posted Jan 14 2009 7:22pm

According to this article, Gerald Stanley’s competence to stand trial will be revisited. But it is not his current competence that will be evaluated; rather, his competence at the time of the trial will be re-examined. Mr. Stanley was convicted of killing his wife in 1984. From the article:

In March, federal court Judge Frank C. Damrell, citing juror misconduct, ruled that a new hearing was needed to determine whether or not Stanley had been mentally competent to stand trial. A female juror in that original case, according to Damrell' s finding, may have been a victim of domestic abuse but had not disclosed it to the court.

On Tuesday District Attorney Jon Hopkins returned to Butte County, where the trial was held in 1983 and early 1984 due to a change of venue, to set a date for a hearing to argue whether or not a new competency trial should be held.

The article goes on to note the multiple documents and records from the time of the trial are available for this purpose, including transcripts of statements made by various witnesses, as well as the defendant himself. Further, it appears the defendant was never diagnosed with a mental health disorder, which would have otherwise complicated the situation.

Obviously, the best course of action would have been to get everything right the first time. However, given the records that appear to be available, my guess is that a reasonably informed opinion could be offered, unless something unforeseen pops up.

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