Man Faces Competency Confusion and Virtual Issues in Court

By Angelina Sang

SANTA BARBARA, CA –An accused here—with an alleged long history with crime and mental competency—had a pretrial hearing here this week in Santa Barbara County Superior Court via Zoom, and it caused some confusion.

The man, who won’t be named by The Vanguard because the charge is only a misdemeanor, faces the misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer. 

The court was informed this comes almost a year after the accused made news by barricading himself inside the bathroom of an Isla Vista apartment evading charges of burglary, vandalism, and obstruction of a peace officer, according to Raquel Zick, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s spokesperson.

The accused’s battles with his mental competency, she added, seem to have begun in 2016, in which doubt was declared, and the accused returned after incompetence was declared in 2017 and 2019. Now, though the man appears adamant about proving his competency, while doctors assigned to his case disagreed.

“I’ve reviewed two reports,” said Santa Barbara Public Defender Anne Hayes. “One to indicate competent, one to indicate not competent. I think we need a third.”

The man seemed to believe he was competent and stated such to the court. Sounding desperate, he told the court that one of his doctors was “untruthful,” and that he would refuse that doctor.

“Usually on a misdemeanor charge, you just have two doctors and if one says competent they just go with that,” said the accused, adding. “I’m totally competent.”

PD Hayes came to his aid, asking the court for a new doctor to help her client to which Deputy District Attorney Sherwin Nadjm agreed, and the accused agreed.

Throughout court, lawyers as well as multiple accused voiced complaints regarding the audio quality of the virtual courtroom, in which the microphones of the defense and judge were about a third as loud as the rest of the participants in the Zoom hearing.

“It’s hard to communicate through the system like this,” said the accused from his Zoom call inside a jail cell. His communication issues were underscored when the accused asked what day of the week it was, and seemed bewildered when the court corrected him.

About The Author

Angelina is a junior at UCSB from San Carlos, California studying Psychological and Brain Sciences and History pursuing a pre-law track.

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