Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia.
Defendant contended that he had been prejudiced by the absence
of counsel at the preliminary hearing and by the fact that no
transcript of the proceeding was available.
The evidence tended to establish that Roach and Stewart, wearing
masks and carrying guns, robbed a bank in Dallas, Georgia.
Dye Bag was swallowed
Bank personnel soon discovered that the robbers had swallowed
not only the worm but the hook: a security package containing a
dye bomb designed to emit a red, tear-gas-like substance within
minutes after removal. .
Brenda Stewarts Girlfriend
Brenda Jackson, Stewart's girlfriend, testified that Roach and
Stewart had robbed the bank and that
she was driving the getaway car when
the dye bomb exploded, making it difficult for them
Roach switched places with Jackson and began driving.
Stewart threw the shotgun out of the car and, after a bit, fled
with the stolen money.
Noticed the large red stain in the car.
Roach and Jackson were arrested.
FBI determined the stains to be the same chemical used in the
Brendas Psychiatric Examination
Three month before the trial she had an exam.
She was found to have used drugs intermittently.
Judge said she was competent to stand trial.
Roach complains that these procedures were
insufficient guarantees of a fair trial.
Another psychiatric examination should have been ordered;
Experts should have testified;
The judge should have personally questioned Jackson since Rule
104 of the Federal Rules of Evidence requires him to decide
preliminary questions regarding the "qualification of a person
to be a witness . . . or the admissibility of evidence."
Necessity of a psychiatric examination
The district court has broad discretion in determining whether
to order such examinations.
There can be no serious claim of abuse of discretion, since
there was an earlier examination and there was a preliminary
It is doubtful that mental incompetence would even be grounds
for disqualification of a prospective witness.
Provides that "(e)very person is
competent to be a witness except as otherwise
provided in these rules," and nowhere is mental competence
mentioned as a possible exception.
Notes of the House Committee
One effect of Rule 601 is to abolish mental capacity as a ground
for rendering a person incompetent as a witness.
Notes of the Advisory Committee
The question of capacity was one "particularly suited to the
jury as one of weight and credibility, subject to judicial
authority to review the sufficiency of the evidence."
For preliminary determination, the court does not need to order
psychiatric examinations or competency hearings of witnesses.
The Df should be allowed to impeach his or her perceptions and
The preliminary hearing into Jacksons competence is added
ground for affirming the jurys verdict rather than a reason to
set it aside.