Competency Examination Prior a Sex Offender Registration Act Hearing in New York

In People v. Parris, 153 AD3d 68, 60 N.Y.S.3d 169, appeal denied, (October 24, 2017), the appellate court held that the Supreme Court did not violate the defendant's due process rights when it refused to order a competency examination prior to proceeding with a Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) hearing. In that case, a defendant with a history of mental illness pled guilty to sexual abuse in the first degree. At his SORA hearing, after making several disrespectful and obscene outbursts before the judge, the defendant was removed from the courtroom. Afterward, defense counsel noted that the defendant's mental health issues prevented him from understanding the consequences and nature of a SORA designation. Counsel asserted the court should have discontinued the hearing, ordered a competency proceeding and waited until the client was found competent to proceed. Although acknowledging SORA did not provide for competency exams, the defendant's lawyer argued that it was within the inherent power of the court to order one. (153 AD3d at 73-74.)