News of the Day ... in Perspective7/12/2004
Psychiatrist says jailed dentist competent to stand trial
An independent psychiatric evaluation by AAPS President Mark Schiller, M.D., a San Francisco psychiatrist, concluded that Charles Thomas Sell, D.D.S., jailed for seven years without trial, is mentally competent to stand trial.
For years, federal prosecutors have been waging a legal battle to forcibly medicate Dr. Sell with antipsychotic medications. Dr. Sell fought them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the government must meet strict standards before medicating prisoners in an attempt to make them fit for trial.
Dr. Schiller told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that while Dr. Sell does suffer from a delusional disorder, the disorder does not render him incompetent. “He understands the charges, he’s well-organized, and he’s even written his own brief to the court…. He has no delusional barrier that would keep him from assisting his lawyers.”
Richard DeMier, a psychologist employed by the government, had written a report determining that Dr. Sell was fit for trial. At a hearing, however, he told the judge that Dr. Sell was not mentally fit, solely on the basis that Dr. Sell had declined to speak to him on the morning of the hearing.
Judge Donald Stohr, who will now consider whether Dr. Sell can go to trial, has sealed Dr. Schiller’s report. Dr. Schiller states that although he has done many mental evaluations, this is the first one to be sealed. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 12, 2004).
AAPS has filed a motion to unseal the videotapes that purportedly show prison guards abusing Dr. Sell.
Observers at the court hearing on May 21 stated that Dr. Sell testified “brilliantly,” describing every detail about his case and the charges against him. The prosecutor was unable to trip him up, even though the prison guards had kept lights on all night in Dr. Sell’s cell, interfering with his rest, purportedly as a “suicide watch.”