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Former state senator faces competency exam


Ben Fenwick August 31st, 2007

An Oklahoma federal judge ordered former state Sen. Gene Stipe to undergo a mental evaluation at a Missouri federal inmate hospital on Tuesday, records show.  According to the ruling filed in th...

An Oklahoma federal judge ordered former state Sen. Gene Stipe to undergo a mental evaluation at a Missouri federal inmate hospital on Tuesday, records show. 

According to the ruling filed in the Eastern Oklahoma District Court by U.S. District Judge Ronald White, Stipe appeared disoriented at a probation revocation hearing in Muskogee, prompting the decision. 

"The defendant appeared to be drugged or under hypnosis," White wrote in a footnote. "He struggled to vocalize his thoughts. When questioned by the Court he appeared to have no comprehension of an appropriate answer until prompted by his counsel. At one point, the Court was obliged to determine whether he was awake."

 White ordered Stipe remanded to the U. S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., where he is to be examined for mental competency.

 CRITICISM
The ruling prompted criticism from Stipe's attorney, Clark Brewster, who called the order "draconian."

 The term touched a nerve with White, who referenced it in his written order.

 "Defense counsel described the Court's action as 'draconian,'" White wrote. "The etymology of that term derives from laws created by Draco, an Athenian law scribe under which small offenses had heavy punishments. The Court is not punishing the defendant, but instead is actually seeking the best method to protect the defendant's due process rights by ensuring that a probation revocation hearing of a possibly incompetent defendant does not proceed. Thus, the adjective 'draconian' may be a tad harsh."

If that wasn't enough, White continued with a foray into British media pop culture.

 "The Court assumes defense counsel was not referring to the Draconians, a civilization of reptilian humanoids with a sophisticated and advanced culture not unlike feudal Japan as portrayed in the British science fiction series Dr. Who." "Ben Fenwick

 
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