Crazy Eyes: The Discernment of Competence by a Federal Magistrate Judge
46 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2006 Last revised: 26 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 22, 2010
It is one the few areas of pure judicial discretion left in the federal criminal justice system: The ability of a federal magistrate to Immediately order an inpatient competency examination at an initial appearance. Such an examination results in a complete loss of liberty for the defendant, based on what may be nothing more than a hunch by the magistrate judge that mental illness is a factor in the case.
Crazy Eyes, written by an experienced federal magistrate judge and a Professor of Law at Baylor University, urges a greater focus on this issue and more extensive training for magistrate judges to avoid injustice. In arriving at this conclusion, they examine the history of the issue and three specific sentencing hearings in which Judge Manske determined that a competency hearing was necessary.
Keywords: initial appearance, competence, mental illness, discretion
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation