Conviction Vacated Because of Competency Test Delay in Florida

In Jones v. State, 740 So. 2d 520 (Fla. 1999), the defendant brought a postconviction claim that he was incompetent at the time of his trial, and his competency to stand trial had never been tested. Jones, 740 So. 2d at 521. In support, he attached affidavits from attorneys who had represented him during various stages, each of whom asserted that they had concerns as to his competency and who would have requested an evaluation if they had stayed on the case. He further attached affidavits from psychologists who asserted that Jones suffered from organic brain damage. Id. at 522. The postconviction court summarily denied the claim, and the Court reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. After delaying a hearing for twelve years, the court below finally held the required hearing and then denied relief without elaboration. Id. The Court vacated the conviction and sentence, concluding that "the twelve-year delay undisputedly not due to appellant, the lack of psychological testing contemporaneous to trial, and the State's own evidence that a retroactive competency determination is not possible establish the inability to provide appellant a meaningful retrospective competency determination that complies with due process." Id. at 524.