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State v. Reid

Supreme Court of Arizona

January 27, 1960

STATE of Arizona, Appellee,
v.
John REID, Appellant.

Page 732

[87 Ariz. 125] Catherine Mealey, Flagstaff, for appellant.

Wade Church, Atty. Gen., and Newman W. White, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

UDALL, Justice.

This is an appeal by John Reid (defendant-appellant) from conviction on two separate bogus check charges. After the jury returned verdicts of guilty the court entered judgments of conviction and sentended the defendant to serve not less than seven nor more than eight years in the state penitentiary. While no motion for a new trial was made, notice of appeal was timely given.

We are furnished with only a partial transcript of the testimony; this does not contain any of the evidence adduced by the State in its case in chief. When the State rested, the defendant took the witness stand and readily admitted having caused to be drawn and delivered two bogus checks--aggregating $240--set forth in the informations. Furthermore he acknowledge two prior convictions of similar offenses in Coconino County, as alleged in the informations, as well as disclosing time served on a bogus check charge in a California penitentiary.

Due to the peculiar behavior exhibited by defendant during the short course of his examination, the trial court interrupted the proceedings and ordered a hearing (under the provisions of Rule 250, Rules of Criminal Procedure, 17 A.R.S.) to determine whether the accused was mentally competent to stand trial, i. e., whether he could understand the proceedings against him and assist in his defense. The defendant was examined at this hearing by two court-appointed physicians (both were licensed M.D.'s)--one of whom had some experience in the field of mental health. Both doctors concurred in finding that the accused was 'aware of the proceedings and capable of assisting in his defense', although stating he might be better off with some psychiatric [87 Ariz. 126] help. At the conclusion of this hearing the trial court found defendant met the standards set out by Rule 250, supra, and ordered that the trial continue.

Defendant asserts four grounds for appeal:

1. That the examination into his mental condition was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Rule 250, supra.

2. That defense counsel was improperly precluded from arguing the insanity issue before the jury, even though there had been no four days' notice of such defense, as is required by Rule 192 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

3. That it was error for the court to advise the jury as to the proceedings held to determine defendant's mental condition.

4. That the sentence is excessive in light of the offenses committed.

We shall consider these grounds seriatim:

1. Adequacy of the samity hearing. The pertinent language of Rule 250, supra, under which this hearing was held, is as follows:

'If before or duiring the trial the court has reasonable ground to believe that the defendant, against whom as indictment has been found or information filed, is insane or mentally defective, to the extent that he is unable to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his defense, the court shall immediately set a time for a hearing to determine the defendant's mental condition. The court may appoint two disinterested qualified experts to examine the defendant with regard to his present mental condition and to testify at the hearing. * * *'

Page 733

It is the contention of defendant (a) that the trial court erred in failing to appoint two licensed psychiatrists to conduct this examination, and (b) the finding that defendant was able to ...


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