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Name: McMurtrey v. Ryan
Case #: 03-99002
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/21/2008

When the evidence raises a bona fide doubt as to a defendant’s competence to stand trial, the court has a sua sponte duty to conduct an evidentiary hearing, and failure to do so is a violation of defendant’s due process right. Appellant was convicted of two murders and an attempted murder in this Arizona case. The pre-trial evidence presented by trial counsel, the evidence at trial, the evidence in the sentencing report, and the evidence at sentencing as to appellant’s behavior, medications, and memory problems were sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt as to his ability to assist counsel. The state court’s failure to conduct a competency hearing violated appellant’s due process rights. The district court’s grant of habeas corpus relief was upheld by the appellate court.