Habeas corpus petitions can allege many different types of deficiencies against defense counsel. One such deficiency is failure to investigate the petitioner’s metal health. You can learn more about the mental state assessment here.
If the habeas petition alleges that defense counsel had deficiency because he or she failed to investigate the petitioner’s mental state at the time of the crime, habeas counsel must retain a mental health expert, such as a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist, to examine the petitioner and make a reasoned determination about the petitioner’s mental state at the time of the crime. Habeas counsel should also supply the expert with any informative documents. This includes police reports, school records, DCF records, military records, work records, medical records and mental health records. Without the findings of a mental health expert, the petitioner cannot satisfy Strickland’s prejudice prong. This happens because the petitioner cannot show possible results if defense counsel had taken the appropriate steps. They cannot show what would have happened if they investigated the petitioner’s mental state.
Mental Health Experts
The retention of a mental health expert should happen without delay. The assessment can take several weeks or months. Further, the assessment may reveal the need to obtain a more specialized expert. This further adds to the length of the process. Thus, by promptly retaining the expert, habeas counsel ensures that the assessment will be complete. This happens well before trial and that the case will not be jeopardized.
If the petitioner does not have the funds to hire a mental health expert, request should go to the Office of Chief Public Defender (OCPD), 30 Trinity Street, 4th FL, Hartford, CT 06106; telephone 860-509-6400, for permission to obtain an expert at OCPD’s expense. This happens even in a case where habeas counsel is privately retained.
In addition to requesting OCPD to fund the assessment, counsel can file a motion (ex parte and under seal if necessary) with the habeas court, seeking court authorization to employ a mental health expert at state expense, pursuant to the federal and state constitutions and Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985).
Are you looking for help with a habeas corpus petition in the state of Connecticut? If this is the case, consider talking about your situation with an attorney. They can answer your questions and help you determine how to proceed.