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49 Sw. L. Rev. 144 (2020-2021)
I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now: Looking to the Objective Science in Evaluating Juveniles' (In)Competency

handle is hein.journals/swulr49 and id is 150 raw text is: 






    Tommy,  a nine-year-old boy with no prior juvenile court involvement,
is charged with a crime serious enough in his state to be transferred
automatically to adult court.' At the recommendation  of a medical
professional team, Tommy was deemed incompetent, and the court ordered
him to an outpatient psychiatric facility to restore his competency. After
eight one-hour sessions, Tommy learned to repeat his charges, appeared to
understand their meaning, learned each of the various court personnels' roles,
described evidence that potentially could be presented in his case, and
repeated potential consequences of being found guilty. Nonetheless, there
was something lacking in Tommy's responses, which became evident during
the last session. First, in answer to what his job in court was, Tommy stated,
 [t]o do nothing ... no, my job is to sit there and ... whatever the witness
says I can tell my lawyer, and whatever the judge asks me I don't have to
answer it. When asked whether there was anything else that may help his
case, he answered no. The evaluator then asked Tommy  whether he
thought he should share with his lawyer specific facts that may help his case.
Tommy's  answer was [n]o, it wouldn't be good for me to tell my lawyer,
because I wouldn't want people to know I'm scared of things . .. and [my
friends] will make fun of me. It was evident that while Tommy could
regurgitate factual understandings, rational reasoning was not present. Yet
some states, based on their statutes,2 would still deem Tommy competent.


    1. See Frank Fortunati et al., Juveniles and Competency to Stand Trial, PSYCHIATRY, Mar.
2006, at 36, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49631689_JuvenilesandCompetencyto
_StandTrial (download PDF). This case vignette is from the Fortunati et al. article. Id. at 36-38.
   2. Id. at 36.

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