22 May Denver Criminal Defense Lawyer Iris Eytan Interviewed by Law Week Colorado in Article Titled, “Competency Litigation Concludes With Consent Decree”
April 15, 2019
Long-running litigation over the time-frame for competency evaluations for criminal defendants resolved with a consent decree.
After the issue went through multiple rounds of litigation and settlements, the consent decree is expected to resolve the litigation. The result includes changes in the Colorado Department of Human Services’ structure and is expected to lead changes in other states around the country.
The latest litigation involved Iris Eytan of Eytan Nielsen, Caleb Durling of Fox Rothschild and Ellie Lockwood of Snell & Wilmer on behalf of Disability Law Colorado. DLC was also represented by Tim Scalo of Snell & Wilmer and Mark Ivandick and Jennifer Purrington of DLC, all under the umbrella of the Colorado Lawyers’ Committee.
The large-scale issue began even earlier, though, with a criminal defendant who was incompetent to stand trial but was awaiting a competency evaluation. Eytan said DHS was required to evaluate him, but there was no statutory guideline for a reasonable time for that evaluation.
Eytan said the defendant, who had only been charged at that point, sat waiting in jail with his case stayed while awaiting the competency evaluation. His, and others’, detention was a 14th Amendment due process violation, Eytan said.
“[He] was in jail for six months before the public defender came and said this situation was going on.” Eytan, Lockwood and another attorney stepped in and found the situation wasn’t limited to that case — 80 others were waiting for evaluations as well.