OR: Hearing set to evaluate death row inmate Haugen
Thu Aug 4, 2011 15:55
Hearing set to evaluate death row inmate Haugen
Judge to weigh the findings of mental evaluation
A Marion County judge on Wednesday set a Sept. 27 hearing to evaluate the mental competence of death row inmate Gary Haugen before deciding whether to grant his desire to be executed for the 2003 slaying of a fellow inmate.
At the hearing, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Guimond will consider the findings of a planned psychological evaluation of Haugen and pose a series of questions to him. The psychological exam is scheduled for Aug. 23.
If Guimond deems Haugen mentally competent to drop his appeals, essentially volunteering to be executed, the judge will set a date for the 49-year-old inmate to be put to death by lethal injection.
Wednesday's developments followed months of legal wrangling and turmoil connected to the case.
Haugen told the Statesman Journal after Wednesday's court status conference that he has become frustrated by delays.
"It just keeps getting drug out and drug out and drug out," he said by telephone from the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Haugen left no doubt that he remains steadfast about his decision to drop his appeals and proceed with the execution.
"I am most certainly done with this," he said, summing up his disdain for the legal system.
Later this month, Haugen will undergo a mental evaluation by Richard Hulteng, a longtime forensic psychologist.
Haugen said he is guardedly optimistic that Hulteng's findings will help clear the way for him to be executed.
"He's just going to call it how he sees it," Haugen said. "I am a little apprehensive because of what happened with this last fiasco."
The case became embroiled in legal complications after Guimond signed Haugen's death warrant in May and scheduled his execution for Aug. 16.
In the wake of that action, Haugen's former attorneys, Andy Simrin and Keith Goody, sent a letter to the Oregon Supreme Court asserting that Haugen is not competent to be executed.
The high court sided with the two attorneys and gave Guimond a choice to either defend his decision to execute Haugen in arguments before the court, or invalidate the death warrant and hold a competency hearing.
Guimond opted to vacate the death warrant for the Aug.16 execution, leading to Wednesday's setting of the Sept. 27 competency hearing.
Haugen remains angry about the tactics used by Simrin and Goody to block his execution, describing them as "unethical and illegal." He accuses his former attorneys of violating his rights by misleading him about Lezak's evaluation, failing to get his written consent for it and by publicly disclosing the results.
In a court victory for Haugen on Wednesday, Guimond approved the inmate's request to seal the affidavit issued by Lezak, meaning that her findings won't have any further bearing on the case.
In a cautionary aside, Guimond told Haugen that there is "no guarantee" about the outcome of the upcoming competency hearing.
Haugen later told the newspaper that he is fully aware of the uncertainty about his fate.
"Like the judge said today, 'Hey, look you know, this might not go the way you want it to go.' Well, of course, we know that."
Facing a key psychological evaluation late this month, Haugen said he doesn't expect Hulteng's report to further delay or derail his bid to be executed.
"It would be surprising to me if something like that happened," he said. "Whenever we've got a new something involved, you know, it makes me a little bit anxious. But the bottom line is, if the guy's just a straight shooter, then he's going to find what he's going to find."
agustafs@StatesmanJournal.com. (503) 399-6709, or follow at twitter.com/agustaf1
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