Comments about ‘Defense witness in Brian David Mitchell competency case goes on offensive’

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She believed in 2004 that he wasn't capable of aiding in his defense

Published: Friday, Dec. 11 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

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My analysis

I believe Mitchell is incompetent -- incompetent to be a member of the human race.

Dave M

Could Mr. Mitchell EVER be trusted again to roam free? No. Competent or not, he needs to be locked away where he cannot be a threat to anyone ever again. Period.

Our justice system must be able to recognize that some persons, competency aside, can NEVER again be allowed access to the general population. The risks are just too great.

Doctor Jon

Your tax dollars at work.Why don't they just put him in a rubber room and forget all this nonsence.

of many, one

The Doc said that the accused was not competent to stand trial. Well, okay. My question is, did he know that what he was doing was wrong, both morally and legally? If so, who cares if he's competent to stand trial? Let's have the trial without him! Not competent? No problem! Stay in your cell, doing whatever you're sufficiently competent to do. We'll have a trial, convict you, and let you stay where you are for the remainder of your natural life! Oh, and my personal recommendation is that you be castrated as well. Let the punnishment fit the crime.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Smart should be able to decide his fate. She was the victim. She knows how "competent" he really is. She seems to have a pure heart, and I'm sure she would sentence him to something he deserved, rather than go with what she wanted to see happen to him. Let her decide.

Anonymous

Micthell belongs in a Turkish prison.

So. Cal Reader

Blah, blah, blah. Seems like a forensic psychologist who just might be a little insecure of her abilities. Egads! She was "raised in Utah"? Might there be a little anti-Utah "axe to grind"? Probably not because she's a "professional."

Pedro

"Mitchell asked staff members about the conversion rate of shekels to U.S. currency in order to pay Ed Smart for his daughter."

This is all one big joke for Mitchell. He thinks he can get away with anything, and so far, he's right.

Chris

I agree with Anonymous 4:32 p.m. Mitchell knows exactly what he did and what he is doing. I wish this psychologist were as smart and clever as Mitchell is and perhaps she could have established a correct diagnosis.

Experts?

I don't feel that anyone in these forums is qualified to make a correct diagnosis of this man's mental state. Nor, without a jury of his peers does anyone have the right to recommend a punishment. Also, nobody should be saying "kill him." Such comments of physical violence should be met with charges of their own. However, I do agree that nothing should be drawn out forever like this, and our legal system needs serious examination of efficiency. Too many know-it-alls here.

To So. Cal Reader

To suggest that Dr. Jennifer Skeem is "insecure in her abilities", demeans the many institutions and legal professionals that have relied on her for years.

Dr. Skeem is a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment, and Centers for Psychology and Law and Evidence-Based Corrections. She trained in clinical psychology at the Universities of Utah and Pittsburgh (hardly an "anti-Utah axe to grind"). Dr. Skeem’s research is designed to inform clinical and legal decision-making about individuals with mental disorder.

To help research inform policy and practice, she works closely with national and local agencies (e.g., Council of State Governments; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). Dr. Skeem has received several awards, including the Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Excellence from the American Psychological Association (Division 41) and the Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research from the Academic Senate of UCIrvine.

To 4:14 pm

A popular sense of justice and public demand for revenge might make it sound like a good idea to have victims judge the accused.

My opinion is that the Founding Fathers had some good ideas when they established our system of justice with its guarantees of due process, a trial by jury, no cruel and unusual punishment, etc., and that we shouldn't insouciantly throw the whole thing out the window.

Joe Moe

You have two independent psychiatrists (DeMier and Skeem) who disagree with the 500M psychiatrist brought in by prosecutors. What is DeMier and Skeem's motivation to mislead the court? It would be far easier to go along with the lynch-mob mentality.

Everyone wants to see Mitchell held accountable, so everyone wants to believe he's competent for trial. Frankly, having had some training in psychology, I personally find DeMier and Skeem to be quite reasonable in their statements (I also found the other's statements reasonable at the time, but Skeem got her chance to speak her piece and answered well). But regardless of my personal beliefs, or anyone else's, there is obviously strong reason to believe Mitchell is incompetent. The court will probably find just that.

And then what? It's as if people think he'll be out on the street. He'll be locked in a room for the rest of his life. Why is everyone so upended over WHERE he'll be locked up? He's not going to kidnap or rape again. The system will work fine. Relax a little.

To Joe Moe:

Very well said. Whether in a prison cell, or the nut house, Mitchell will never see the light of day.

Mark Terran

How telling that while most would recognize the stuffing of the ears as merely another denial mechanism on Mitchell's part, Skeem on the other hand apparently sees it as evidence of insanity.

Mitchell is determined to resist truth and to instead revel in his grandiose, narcissistic, false reality. It is a matter of will - not one of disability, nor of schizophrenia. Again: it is not that Mitchell can't understand reality; it is that he won't. That is why he stuck the pieces of napkins in his ears: it was because people like Welner, Hagan, and Gardner were confronting him with reality, rationality, and truth.

To "Amazing," and "Chachi": I do not have formal training in psychiatry or psychology. But I have dealt with pure evil at close range and so I do know something of what I am talking about. Also, like many of the readers here, I have a smattering of common sense, something DeMier and Skeem don't seem to have. Indeed this case will cause many to reconsider the value of "expert" opinion, the value of common sense, and the role of plain-old dishonesty in "delusional" behavior in most cases.

Anonymous

"Dr. Skeem is a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment, and Centers for Psychology and Law and Evidence-Based Corrections. She trained in clinical psychology at the Universities of Utah and Pittsburgh (hardly an "anti-Utah axe to grind"). Dr. Skeem’s research is designed to inform clinical and legal decision-making about individuals with mental disorder.

To help research inform policy and practice, she works closely with national and local agencies (e.g., Council of State Governments; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). Dr. Skeem has received several awards, including the Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Excellence from the American Psychological Association (Division 41) and the Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research from the Academic Senate of UCIrvine."

Blah, Blah, Blah!

The irony is that the psychiatric communities bizarre conclusional analysis of what constitutes mental illness just proves that David Mitchell is more competent than those who are judging his competency.

Question to JoeMoe

Let's say Mitchell is declared incompetend. Can a judge order him to be confined in a mental hospital for life? I don't think so. He will be there as long as he remains delusional. But what if 10-15 years later, he decides to take his meds and voala! he's fine and free to leave the hospital and live the good life. Please somebody tell me, is there any chance that can happen? I believe it may or the prosecutors are just too crazy to spend $$ tax money to find him incompetent.

John Pack Lambert

Does Skeem mean to imply that her colaboration with the unethical defense team was unintentional? She is the one who used the term unethical to describe the defense team. Very interesting.

Joe Moe

@8:42

You raise a good question, and I hope someone more knowledgeable than me confirms (or corrects) my upcoming answer. In the meantime, I'll tell you what I understand to be the process, but I cannot say I know for certain.

Being incompetent to stand trial is not the same as being found innocent by reason of insanity. If in 10-15 years he becomes competent to stand trial, he will do so. If that doesn't happen, he stays institutionalized for life.

Ace

Joe Moe is correct. One can be not insane at the time of a crime and be unable to stand trial due to insanity. One can also be not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, but be perfectly sane later and able to stand trial. So far, the question of Mitchell's sanity at the time of his crime has not been raised (but you can bet it's coming). All that's being discussed at this time is whether at this moment he is competent to stand trial. If he's found competent, the prosecution will go forward. If not, he stays in the state mental hospital.

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