PEOPLE OF MI V DANIEL RAY NEWLANDAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN,
November 13, 1998
Baraga Circuit Court
LC No. 96-581-FH
DANIEL RAY NEWLAND,
Before: Saad, P.J., and Hood and Gribbs, JJ.
Defendant appeals of right from his jury conviction for one count of aggravated stalking, MCL
750.411i; MSA 28.643(9), and one count of assault and battery, MCL 750.81; MSA 28.276.
Defendant was sentenced to 365 days in jail for the aggravated stalking conviction and ninety days in jail
for the assault and battery conviction. Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by
not interrupting the trial and reassessing defendant’s competency to participate in his defense. Finding
no merit in this claim, we affirm.
The prosecutor raised the issue of defendant’s competency prior to the trial. Defendant was
examined by a forensic examiner from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, a competency hearing was
held, and the trial court found defendant competent to stand trial. After his conviction, defendant moved
for a new trial, arguing that some of his actions and remarks during the trial raised the issue of his
competency again and that the trial court should have made further inquiries. The trial court denied the
motion for a new trial. Since this issue was addressed by the trial court, it was preserved for appeal.
People v Connor, 209 Mich App 419, 422; 531 NW2d 734 (1995). We review the trial court’s
decision for an abuse of discretion. People v Harris, 185 Mich App 100, 102; 460 NW2d 239
(1990); People v Newton (After Remand), 179 Mich App 484, 488; 446 NW2d 487 (1989).
MCL 330.2020(1); MSA 14.800(1020)(1) provides:
A defendant to a criminal charge shall be presumed competent to stand trial.
He shall be determined incompetent to stand trial only if he is incapable because of his
mental condition of understanding the nature and object of the proceedings against him
or of assisting in his defense in a rational manner. The court shall determine the capacity
of a defendant to assist in his defense by his ability to perform the tasks reasonably
necessary for him to perform in the preparation of his defense and during his trial.
Whether a defendant is competent to stand trial is an ongoing concern of the court, and the issue of
competence may be raised at any time during or after trial. People v Garfield, 166 Mich App 66, 74;
420 NW2d 124 (1988). However, evidence of incompetence must be shown. Id.
Here, defendant does not contend that he was incompetent because he did not understand the
nature and object of the proceedings against him. Indeed, defendant clearly appears to have
understood the nature of the proceedings against him, despite the fact that he believed the charges were
part of a conspiracy against him by the police and the prosecution. Defendant contends instead that he
was incompetent because he could not rationally assist in his defense. However, it is apparent from the
record that defendant was able to resolve problems by working matters out with his counsel. As the
trial court implicitly found in ruling on the new trial motion, this demonstrated that defendant was able to
rationally assist in his defense.
Defendant nevertheless argues that the pretrial finding of competence was only based on the
apparent trusting relationship that had developed between defendant and his appointed counsel, and that
once this trusting relationship broke down the trial court was required to reinvestigate the issue of
defendant’s competence. However, the record indicates that the relationship between defendant and
his counsel did not break down; defendant remained able to work with his counsel and to rationally
assist in his defense. Since the record demonstrates that defendant was able to rationally assist his
counsel, there was no “bona fide doubt” regarding defendant’s competence and the trial court was not
required to reopen the inquiry into that matter during the trial. Garfield, supra at 74. We find no abuse
/s/ Henry William Saad
/s/ Harold Hood
/s/ Roman S. Gribbs