A Rarity: Prosecutor, Defense Agree Mental Competence Report for Defendant ‘Biased’ and ‘Farcical’

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By Macy Lu

WOODLAND, CA – It’s rare when prosecutors and defense attorneys agree, on the record.

But, Monday, here in Yolo County Superior Court Dept. 8, Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan and Deputy District Attorney David Robbins concurred that a mental competence report submitted last month for defendant Calvin Leroy Lias was severely “lacking in analysis.”

Though the report does find that Lias has a “developmental disability” and qualifies for a treatment program, that was insufficient for either Davtyan, Robbins, and Judge Peter M. Williams, after he heard the counsels’ reasoning.

“I very much disagree with the conclusions of the report,” stated Davtyan bluntly. “I believe this report is very lacking in analysis, in terms of what the doctor looked at to determine whether Mr. Lias is competent.”

He then insinuated his doubts towards the doctor’s competency, explaining that since the “beginning” of Lias’ case, he has been requesting for “someone qualified to do this evaluation.”

Specifically, he requested another psychiatrist from Alta California Regional Center, a non-profit that partners with the state in providing services to those with developmental disabilities.

Obtaining an evaluation from Alta Regional would require the defendant to demonstrate “substantial evidence of his developmental disability,” which, Davtyan believes, the current report already declares he has.

Judge Williams agreed with Davtyan, adding that the sheer number “of unsolicited opinions about the charging documents itself” and the absence of “hard statements on the issue of competence” made it an overall “unusual” report.

When the judge turned to DDA Robbins for his opinion, Robbins joked, “I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping to argue with Mr. Davtyan about the report this morning…I’m not sure what information Dr. Thompson was relying on in determining the substantial evidence.”

DDA Robbins described the report as “farcical” and “biased.”

Both counsel remained in agreement until prosecutor Robbins insisted that the defense needed to procure more information regarding Lias’ case in the form of a “redacted declaration” that would enable the prosecution to make an assessment of whether Lias’ case required a referral to Alta Regional.

Davtyan clarified that he did “file a declaration under seal” with information “indicative of the development disability” and that Judge David W. Reed, for whom Judge Williams was substituting, found that the defense needed to share “at least some” parts of the declaration with the prosecution.

“I disagree with that,” Davtyan continued. “There’s no protections for how that information will be used against Mr. Lias.” He argued that there should be no need for him to share his “work product and conversations with [his] client” in order for Lias to qualify for a proper evaluation.

Judge Williams returned the spotlight to the forefront issue of ordering another evaluation. Like the defense and prosecution he found the “report lacking on several grounds.”

“I’ve never seen a report by this doctor before,” he wryly stated. “But this one was an interesting one.”

Lias is scheduled to return for a second competency report review April 19 in Dept. 7.

Macy is a junior from Orange County, CA studying Communications and English at UC Davis. She loves meeting people, reading, and writing.

 


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