Sometimes a criminal defendant is not competent to stand trial. Washington criminal law sets out procedures for competency evaluations and restorative treatment. Unfortunately, there are not always sufficient resources for these procedures to timely occur. This lack of resources does not justify holding defendants in jail for excessive amounts of time until resources are available.
A defendant recently challenged his conviction and alleged a violation of substantive due process because he had been detained in jail pending transfer to the hospital for competency restoration treatment. The trial court found the defendant was not competent to stand trial and ordered him to be committed to Western State Hospital (WSH) for 45 days within 15 days of the order. 76 days passed before the defendant was admitted to WSH. During that period, he twice moved to have the charges against him dismissed based on a substantive due process violation. He also moved in the alternative for the hospital to show cause as to why it should not be held in contempt. The court ordered a show cause hearing, but denied the motion to dismiss. Before the hearing occurred, the defendant filed two more motions to dismiss.
A doctor provided a declaration for the show cause hearing stating the hospital had to put the defendant on a waiting list. The doctor stated the average wait time for a 45-day restoration case was 71 days.