Is a Suicide Attempt Indicate Incompetent to Stand Trial ?

In Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 95 S. Ct. 896, 43 L. Ed. 2d 103 (1975), the United States Supreme Court suggested that while a suicide attempt is an indication of possible mental instability, it alone does not necessarily create a reasonable doubt about a defendant's competency to stand trial. Id. at 180. In Groover v. State, 574 So. 2d 97 (Fla. 1991), the court reviewed a similar issue where the petitioner raised an ineffectiveness of counsel claim for counsel's failure to request a psychiatric evaluation after it became clear prison officials had administered large doses of Mellaril. Id. at 98. The postconviction court determined that there had been no sufficient evidence of incompetency, deficient performance of counsel, or prejudice where trial counsel testified there was no genuine issue of sanity or indication the defendant was suffering from diminished capacity. Id. at 98-99. The court agreed, stating, "Where there is no evidence calling a defendant's competency into question, counsel is not bound to seek an evaluation . . . ." Id. at 99 (citing Blanco v. Wainwright, 507 So. 2d 1377 (Fla. 1987)).