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Court Error – Standard of Competency

By: Derek Hawkins//September 7, 2021

Court Error – Standard of Competency

By: Derek Hawkins//September 7, 2021

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Jacob K. Wessel

Case No.: 19-3002

Officials: MANION, ROVNER, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Court Error – Standard of Competency

Jacob Wessel had a history of mental issues. On August 11, 2016, he allegedly raised a gun toward a police officer. A grand jury indicted him for the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm. This case traveled a long, zig-zag path. Defense counsel moved the judge multiple times to find Wessel not competent to stand trial. The judge ordered three 45-day evaluations of Wessel by mental-health experts. Defense counsel also sent multiple mental-health experts to evaluate Wessel. The judge held three competency hearings. She determined he was competent to stand trial, so he did. But trial was not smooth. Wessel exploded into a tirade of profanities and accusations in front of the venire, so the judge sent him to a remote room where he stayed for most of the trial. The jury convicted him. The judge sentenced him to 100 months in prison. He argues the judge erred in concluding he was competent. He asks us to vacate the conviction. But the judge committed no reversible error.


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Derek A Hawkins is Corporate Counsel, at Salesforce.[/box]


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