Shackled Girl: Part 15 – Competency Hearing Ordered For Nine Year Old Witness

Shackled Girl: Part 15 – Competency Hearing Ordered For Nine Year Old Witness November 3, 2016
Judge Linda Jennings. WTOL screen capture via Cleveland 19 News.
Judge Linda Jennings. WTOL screen capture via Cleveland 19 News.

by Propinqua

Editor’s note: All of the officials involved in the Ciboro case deserve respect and support for tackling a well-nigh impossible job. Still, it’s hard to figure out why a nine-year-old witness is having a competency hearing, when the adult defendants have not been required to undergo a psychological evaluation. Yes, we know, those are two very different things, but isn’t there a barbaric imbalance here?

The judge in the Ciboro case has ordered a competency hearing for the younger of two alleged rape victims. This step is necessary because she is only nine years old:

A competency hearing is scheduled for November 16 to determine if the child testifying under the age of 10 understands basic court proceedings, like who the judge is.

We’re not expecting this to be at a high level of knowledge, but just a basic understanding of who all the players are in the courtroom and also whether or not the child understands the difference between telling the truth and a lie,” said [leading prosecutor Frank] Spryszak. 

But at least Anna the golden retriever will be on hand:

Prosecutors plan to bring a comfort dog to both the competency hearing, as well as the December 12 trial to comfort the children testifying. 

Musical Lawyer Chairs

In other news… well, maybe a numbered list is the clearest way to present this:

  1. To recap, Timothy Ciboro lost his right to represent himself in court due to his “obstructionist misconduct.” His son Esten retains the right to represent himself because he is “very polite” in court. Both men are accused of child rape as well as other charges that could produce life sentences. (A no-contact order has been lifted, so that father and son are again permitted to talk to each other in jail.)
  2. After losing his right to serve as his own lawyer, Timothy persuaded Judge Linda Jennings to remove his third court-appointed attorney, Merle Dech.
  3. Timothy then asked the judge to throw out some motions before the court. She refused, because he did not have any legal representation.
  4. Judge Jennings said she planned to name a fourth court-appointed lawyer, Michael Bahner, to represent Timothy.
  5. Timothy immediately insisted that the trial begin on October 31, even though Bahner had just been appointed to the case. He also tried to get Bahner fired. The judge turned him down.
  6. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for November 9 “to hear arguments on the state’s motion to join the defendants and offenses for one trial.”
  7. The competency hearing for the nine-year-old girl was scheduled for November 16. This will be a closed hearing.
  8. The trial of both men is now slated for December 12.
  9. This headline has proliferated: “Man accused of raping teen relative can’t be own attorney.” It refers only to Timothy, and cites a story in the Toledo Blade that uses a different headline: “Judge again denies Toledo man’s request to represent himself in rape, shackling case.”
  10. This headline is missing, and it would refer to Esten: “Man accused of raping teen relative will be own attorney, will question and cross-examine alleged victim.”

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14


propinquaPropinqua is the Latin word for neighboring or nearby (singular feminine adjective). It is used in law and philosophy, and in the scientific names of plants and animals, such as the native bee Osmia lignaria propinqua.

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