Competency restoration training is a psychoeducational intervention in which an individual who has been found incapable of proceeding in a legal trial due to any combination of limited understanding, communication deficits or impaired ability to conform his or her behaviors to the demands of the courtroom is rendered capable. It is generally a part of a multi-faceted treatment strategy that also includes psychiatric care and coaching by the defendant’s attorney.
Competency restoration may include anger management skills, relaxation training and cognitive behavioral therapy as adjunct interventions to education regarding general legal processes and specific aspects of the defendant’s case. At the conclusion, the client should be able to discuss his or her case with his or her attorney, differentially weigh the risks and possible benefits of the different pleadings, strategize the case in consideration of testimonials and evidence, testify and conduct him or herself in a matter suitable to the courtroom. He or she should understand the roles of the court officers, the adversarial nature of the courtroom and the responsibilities and limitations of the judge and jury as well and he or she should also understand and believe that his attorney has his or her best interests in mind.
Competency restoration typically takes six to eight one hour sessions, upon psychiatric stabilization and includes post-testing to ensure the materials taught have been retained. It should be conducted by someone who is knowledgeable in mental health diagnoses and Florida Statutes and who is experienced in court proceedings and certified as a Florida Forensic Examiner.
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