CNN is reporting that the apparent reason for Saturday’s adjournment was to have the defendant examined to determine if she remains competent to stand trial.
This would indeed explain and justify halting the trial. If the defendant is not competent to proceed, the trial cannot proceed. If that issue is raised – and her lawyers would have to raise it if they had any reason to – everything stops until it is determined that the defendant is competent.
Of course, the standard for whether someone is competent to stand trial is very low, and they are almost always found to be competent, which is apparently what happened here. So now the torture resumes.
I should think that this strongly implies that her lawyers do not want her to testify. If they think her very competency is an issue, knowing how far off someone would have to be to qualify as incompetent to stand trial, it would seem axiomatic that they do not consider her capable of taking the witness stand in her own defense.
Just as an aside, it is interesting that this issue came up without any evident symptoms being displayed by the defendant. No one, so far as I am aware, even guessed that this was the problem requiring the delay. Including me.
It is likely – not certain, but likely – that her attorneys have noticed she is “dissociating”, basically mentally disconnecting from what is going on around her. This is a strange thing to observe. The person is physically there and not in any sort of coma but becomes non-responsive. It resembles a seizure, not the kind where someone writhes on the floor and foams at the mouth, but where there is this definite interruption in their ability to interact with their environment.
There are really no inferences to be drawn from this. At one end of the spectrum, a person who is innocent yet charged with a heinous crime find themselves in a surreal, kafka-esque nightmare that all by itself could induce a dissociative state. At the other end, people can dissociate because they have done a horrible thing that they are incapable of consciously accepting.
In other words, as far as the ultimate point of this whole thing goes, the dissociative behavior could just as easily imply guilt as innocence, or vice versa.
But those that are inclined to believe she is guilty will run with that inference, and they will have lots of company.