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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 135996 Find in a Library
Title: Competence of Criminal Defendants With Mental Retardation To Participate in Their Own Defense
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:81  Issue:3  Dated:(Fall 1990)  Pages:419-446
Author(s): R J Bonnie
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 28
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Despite the widely accepted notion that defendants not competent to stand trial may not be convicted, there are two additional problems that require clarification. First, the problem of under-identification, is the doubt that the interests of mentally retarded defendants are adequately protected. Second, latent ambiguity about the concept of incompetence has raised unresolved questions regarding the legal significance of mental retardation in some cases.
Abstract: The author suggests two ways for lawyers representing mentally retarded clients to ensure their clients' rights are protected: evaluate, in a forensic clinical context, any defendant with recognizable deficiencies in intellectual capacity and draw on specialized services for persons with mental retardation. Several other issues significant to the constitutional norm arise when examining the concept of fairness in criminal adjudications involving mentally retarded defendants. These issues include the meaning of incompetence, competence to assist counsel, and decisional competence and the guilty plea problem. The author notes that, as a general rule, the procedures for assessing the judicial competence of a defendant must be designed to enhance the competence of his counsel. Some form of adjudicative participation by designated representatives of mentally retarded defendants, along with monitoring of these decisions, would provide necessary incentives for improved legal representation. 85 notes
Main Term(s): Competency to stand trial; Offenders with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities
Index Term(s): Defense counsel
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