Thursday, August 8, 2013

No Right to Competency Hearings + No Need to be Competent to Stand Trail in Child Welfare Matters

M.B. v. State of Utah, 2013 UT App 7, Utah Court of Appeals, January 10, 2013

M.B. moved for a stay of the trial until her competency could be determined.  The trial court denied the motion and terminated Mother’s parental rights.  Mother now appeals.

The Court of Appeals affirmed and found that Mother did not have a right to a competency hearing. Further, putting her competency at issue actually could hurt her case because incompetence is a ground for termination of parental rights. See U.C.A. §§ 78A-6-507(c) and 78A-6-503(12).  Further, based on the findings made by the trial court Mother was not incompetent.  There may not had been a hearing on that issue, but the trial court made several findings as to competency based on the psychological evaluation submitted into evidence and Mother’s own testimony.

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