Forensic Services - Contract Administration
Correctional Health Services (CHS) Forensic Services administers and manages contracted Mental Health Experts who provide forensic psychological services for the Court. Mental Health Experts can be either Psychologists or Psychiatrists, and they perform a variety of forensic psychological services for the Court, the most frequent of which are Rule 11 competency evaluations.
Rule 11 is the Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure that governs competency evaluations. The Rule 11 process is usually initiated by defense counsel. In the Rule 11 process, Mental Health Experts are court-ordered to meet with the defendant, conduct a competency evaluation, review records, and write a report rendering an opinion as to the legal competency status of the defendant. Defendants who are found Competent in the Rule 11 process can proceed with their criminal case. “Competent” is a legal standard that indicates the defendant understands the nature of the courtroom proceedings and is able to assist in their own defense.
Restoration to Competency (RTC)
Defendants who are found Incompetent to proceed with their criminal case during the Rule 11 process are usually admitted to the Restoration to Competency (RTC) program. The RTC program may occur in custody at the jails or out of custody. Defendants are court-ordered to participate in the RTC program. The goal of the RTC program is to restore the defendant to legal competency to resume criminal proceedings. Defendants in the RTC program are assigned to a forensic team, which includes a Mental Health Expert and a Forensic Restoration Specialist. Forensic Restoration Specialists conduct legal education sessions with defendants for the purpose of restoration. The Mental Health Expert is ultimately responsible for writing a report rendering a final opinion on the defendant’s legal competency status for the Court. Defendants who are found Competent in the RTC program can proceed with their criminal case.
Rule 11 and RTC are forensic, and separate from any mental health treatment a defendant might be receiving from clinical providers.