I remember that, as a child in the 1950s and 1960s, I was taught a certain amount of disdain for the former Soviet Union. The USA was better than the USSR because the Soviet government routinely abused its power to declare its dissidents to be “mentally unbalanced”. Surely, the United States (home of “freedom of speech”) would never stoop so low as to declare all dissidence to be evidence of mental illness. The freedom-loving USA was therefore clearly superior to the oppressive USSR.
That was 50 years ago. Today, the US imprisons a higher percentage of the its citizens than any other country on earth. By that measure, the US has become the world’s biggest police state and, today, and has far more in common with the former “Evil Empire” (USSR) than it does with the former “Land of the Free” (The United States of America).
Here’s a YouTube video that records part of a courtroom conflict between a defendant and judge. The video is sometimes confusing and sometimes funny.
The defendant attempted to challenge the “trust relationships” involved in the court case. The judge was flustered, left the court room, and ultimately ordered that the defendant to subject himself to a “mental competency exam” before the case could continue.
Even though the defendant’s arguments about trust sound very much like theories I’ve advanced on my radio shows and on this blog, I’m not arguing that the defendant’s arguments were correct. In fact, the defendant may have been mistaken in some of his beliefs and/or deficient in his ability to clearly explain those beliefs to the judge. But–even if he’s made some mistakes in theory or presentation–he’s not crazy and he deserves enough respect from the judge to hear him out and address his concerns.
The attached video illustrates something I’ve known for at least 15 years: It’s rare, but courts faced with “difficult” pro se (or impropria persona) litigants sometimes order the litigants into “mental competency exams”. Why? To stop the litigant’s argument by having the litigant declared “crazy”. Instead of answering a litigant’s questions or addressing and defeating the litigant’s claims, courts sometimes simply seek to simply have the litigant declared “mentally incompetent”. Once the litigant is declared mentally incompetent, 1) he become a a ward of the court whether he likes it or not; 2) the court doesn’t need to listen to anything said by a “mental incompetent”; and 3) the court can “dispose” of the mental incompetent any way it pleases.
On one occasion, I was personally threatened by a court-appointed attorney with a mental competency exam. I know of two other dissidents who actually received mental competency examinations and, in both cases, suffered serious trauma. So, if it seems that I’m leaping to unwarranted conclusions, I’m not.
Note that towards the end of the attached video, the judge, speaking to an attorney, declares that she wants the litigant tested to see if “understands our system”. The word “understand” may be a term of art in that most people think it means “comprehend” while I suspect that the courts often use the term “understand” to mean “agree to”.
The judge’s reference to the defendant’s ability to “understand” “our system” makes me suspect that the judge might be implying that anyone who didn’t “agree to” (consent to) the existing court system might be presumed to be “mentally incompetent”–even if that “system” lacked constitutional authority or followed the State’s Constitution.
Mental Competency Exams are the court’s last “trump card” to deal with stubborn litigants. If they can’t get you any other way, they’ll declare that you’re crazy and that they therefore need not answer your questions.
Mental competency exams may be dangerous in that I’ve heard of a few (unconfirmed) reports wherein people subjected to “mental health” evaluations wind up so impaired by the government’s chemical or electrical “remedies” as to become permanently injured. I can’t verify that such reports are true, but they are scary.
If you’re a “pro se” or impropria persona litigant heading into a conflict with the courts, it may be a good idea to be evaluated by a mental health professional before you enter the court. If you can secure a recent certificate from a licensed shrink who declares his professional opinion that you are not mentally unbalanced, this may preempt a judge’s possible order to have you “tested” for mental competency (and possibly subjected to an FDA-approved “remedy” that impairs your mind). I.e., with that certificate in hand, you have admissible evidence that you are mentally competent.
Perhaps my concerns regarding mental competency exams are more hysteria rather factual. But we live in dangerous times and an ounce of prevention (a certificate of mental competency) could be worth a pound of FDA-approved “cure” for willful uppitiness (dissidence).