Competency: Dusky V. United States

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Abstract The subject of competency of an accused individual to stand trial has remained a part of jurisprudence more or less since trials became a part of the system. In the middle ages the accused that were infirm were tortured until they either confessed that they were fit to stand trial, were severely injured, or died during the process. As an example those that had been accused of a crime who were mute had increasingly heavier weights hung on them until they either collapsed, seen as an admission of either being fit to stand trial or guilt of the crime as determined by the inquisitor, or quickly acquiesced…show more content…
For example in 1960 the Supreme Court interpreted and set the federal competency statute. In Dusky v. United States the Court opinion held that a defendant’s competency is measured by “whether he 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.” Unlike the language of the “rational manner” standard, which can be interpreted to focus on both the defendant’s thinking and his or her behavior, the Dusky v. United States standard’s use of “rational understanding” to measure both the defendant’s comprehension of the proceedings and his or her ability to assist counsel suggests a focus on defendant’s thinking for both components of competency. The court noted that although a madman or a person in a general state of insanity whose mental powers and ability to make sound judgment are totally impaired would obviously not be capable of making a rational defense. However, the court also opined that a defendant in a partial state of insanity, or a person whose mental illness is confined to some subject other than the alleged crime, may be fully competent to understand his situation in respect to the alleged offense, and therefore have the ability to assist in his defense with discretion and reason. This rationale has been…show more content…
Although it plays a big part in the outcome of many cases people frequently forget about the applications of forensic psychology in civil law. Often a forensic psychologist is asked to make an evaluation of either the defendants or plaintiffs disability or level of trauma. From these evaluations the court can decide not only whether compensatory damages should be provided, but in some cases the amount of such. Civil-Forensic Psychologists also work on child custody, sexual harassment, and immigration cases. Virtually any civil matter that requires psychological evaluation probably includes the work of a forensic

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