Cook County Judges

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Archive for February 2015

Fitness or competency determinations in criminal cases

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Fitness or mental competency to stand trial is a complicated topic. Legal fitness concerns the legal terms of fitness, sanity or temporary sanity, and may or may not be related to mental illness. It can also be related to physical illness or incapacity.  This is an up to date and extensive memorandum of law which can be used, after review with an attorney and after addition of any new case law that may apply in any criminal case.  The recent decision in People v. Stahl, by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2014 is included. This applies to Illinois law and U.S. Supreme Court case law.

MEMORANDUM OF LAW – FITNESS EXAMS – for Complete document download it here, which has extensive case law and authorities.  List of Topics Covered:

  1. Due Process Clause Prohibits Conviction & Sentencing of Mentally Unfit Defendants – If Bona Fide Doubt of Fitness Present at Any Time Must Examine for Fitness & Hold Fitness Hearing
  2. Statutes REQUIRE the Judge Shall Inform the Defendant that He/She has the Right to Refuse to Answer Questions at the Fitness Exam
  3. Bail may NOT be Revoked or Denied Based on Order to Undergo Fitness Examination
  4. Mental Illness is Determined by a Physician; Fitness is a Legal Term Determined by a Court
  5. Determining if there is a Bona Fide Doubt of Fitness REQUIRES a Fact Specific Inquiry
  6. Definitions of terms “psychotic”, “irrational”, “delusional”, “hallucinating”, and “competent”.
  7. Defendant has a Right to Request and Examination by a Psychiatrist or Psychologist of His/Her Choice, in Addition to the Requirement that the Judge Review Prior Psychiatric Examinations, in Determining Fitness. 
  8. Even though the Defendant is Sane at the Time of Trial, Lack of Sanity at Time of Offense may Result in Finding of Unfit for Trial when Defendant Unable to Testify about Mental State at Time of Offense & Unable therefore to Assist Counsel in His/Her Defense [General Insanity AKA Fitness or CST and Temporary Insanity are Two Different Issues]
  9. Once an Examiner’s Report is Received by the Court, it Must hold a Fitness Trial (Hearing) within 45 Days.
  10. If Found Unfit Must Determine Least Restrictive Environment for Treatment and Further Evaluation
  11. Edward’s Issues and Miscellaneous Concerns
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