Financier Allen Stanford Found Incompetent to Stand Trial
A federal judge today ruled financier Allen Stanford is incompetent to stand trial due to his inability to assist his lawyers in his own defense.
Several of the news reports on the ruling highlight the judge's finding that Stanford is addicted to drugs he has been given at the federal detention center and need to withdraw from them. A review of the pleadings and court orders in the case (available on PACER, and which I've been following for a few months) tell a much more complex story.
Stanford didn't take these drugs prior to being detained pending trial. He was viciously assaulted in pre-trial detention and sustained brain injuries. Then he was given the medication. Only by withdrawing from them can doctors now determine whether his cognitive deficits are the result of the drugs or the traumatic brain injury he sustained when assaulted. .[More...]
Although three psychiatrists agree Stanford is incompetent to stand trial because his brain isn't functioning to the point where he can assist his lawyers in his defense, none could say whether it's due to the over-medication provided at the Detention Center, or brain damage from the assault. So they need to detox him so they can test his brain function.
From a defense motion:
On September 24, 2009, Mr. Stanford was assaulted by an inmate at Joe Corley Detention Center. As a result of this assault, Mr. Stanford suffered a concussion, traumatic brain injury, fractures of multiple facial bones including the nose, and right orbital bone and injury to his right optic nerve. Mr. Stanford underwent surgery five (5) days later to repair the damage to his face and jaw. He has since complained of frequent headaches, has permanently lost the ability to read with his right eye, and permanently lost all feeling on the right side of his face.
Five days later, he was moved to the Federal Detention Center and placed in solitary confinement at the SHU (special housing unit)for the first 23 days.
At the detention center, Stanford was given Klonopin, Remeron and Zoloft. The doctors who examined him for the competency hearing say the Klonopin was administered in an unusually high dosage, as high as 3.0 mg per day. If Klonopin is not withdrawn correctly, doctors said Stanford could suffer seizures or potentially die.
So after suffering a violent assault at the Joe Corley facility, Stanford has been kept in pre-trial detention and over-medicated.
Stanford suffers from delirium, an organic brain syndrome. What's not known is whether the delirium is the result of over-medication or soft-tissue damage from the traumatic brain injury. His lawyers argued:
The experts all stated that the Accused might have suffered permanent frontal lobe damage. Dr. Axelrad testified that it was necessary to have neurological testing performed on the Accused both before and after he is detoxified from the benzodiazepines. By undertaking such testing, Dr. Axelrad explained, it will be possible to determine exactly what brain damage exists from the assault. Because the Accused is on such high dosages of Klonopin, Zoloft, and Mertazipine, the experts could not determine if he had suffered permanent brain damage.
The Court today ruled that Stanford does have an understanding of the charges and proceedings, but that he lacks the mental capacity to assist his lawyers in preparing his defense. (There are 20 million documents of discovery in the case.)
Thus, once finding Stanford incompetent, the law requires the Judge to commit him to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment at a suitable facility. The Judge suggested a place like like Butner in N.C., a medical facility) so that he can safely reduce his use of Klonopin and then be neurologically tested to find the cause of his brain deficits.
Stanford's lawyers asked for bond, so that he could be treated at a private hospital or at home, but the Judge said no bond, and that the statute doesn't give him the authority to designate him anywhere but into the custody of the Attorney General.
So Allen Stanford had no drug problem when he surrendered to authorities upon learning of the charges and was ordered detained without bail pending trial. He took no prescription medications. He was ordered held at Joe Corley, a Texas private jail. First he required emergency surgery for a heart-related matter. Then he wsa viciously assaulted. As a result of the assault, he was knocked unconscious, suffered brain injury from multiple fractures of the nose, a right orbital blow out fracture, and injury to his right optic nerve, impairing his vision. (His hospital records state “A titanium mesh was affixed using 3- 1.5 mm screws after using a nitrogen gas drill to power the holes with 1.3 mm system drill and bit.”)
Only after the surgery from the assault, was he moved to to the Federal Detention Center, and its way of dealing with Stanford was to throw him in solitary for 23 days and then over-medicate him. And now he lacks the necessary brain functions to assist his lawyers in his own defense. According to the doctors, Stanford now suffers from:
- a traumatic brain injury
- Overmedication of Klonopin and addiction to Klonopin
- Dementia caused by an assault that caused traumatic brain injury
- Major Depressive Disorder.
Stanford appealed his detention order three times. Every court denied him bond. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case.
America. Prison Nation.
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