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Wright County News

Posted on: May 21, 2021

Lutes Explains Rule 20 Objection in Ulrich Case

At yesterday’s court hearing for Greg Ulrich, charged with the Allina Clinic-Crossroads shooting and bomb detonation in Buffalo Feb. 9, the hearing lasted just two minutes because defense counsel filed an objection to the Rule 20 report that deemed Ulrich was competent to stand trial.

Some may be wondering was is Rule 20 and how does it apply to the Ulrich case? The Wright County Attorney’s Office said it isn’t unusual for whichever side finds itself on the wrong end of a Rule 20 report – a ruling of competency for the defense or the lack of competency to stand trial for the prosecution – to file an objection to the Rule 20 report. County Attorney Brian Lutes provided the following statutory explanation of what is involved with Rule 20 and why an objection brings the procedure to a stop.

“Rule 20.01 of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure is utilized to determine if a defendant in a criminal case is mentally competent to participate in a criminal proceeding. A defendant is incompetent and must not plead, be tried, or be sentenced if the defendant due to mental illness or cognitive impairment lacks ability to:  (a) rationally consult with counsel; or (b) understand the proceedings or participate in the defense. If the prosecutor, defense counsel, or the court doubts the defendant’s competency, a motion must be made challenging competency. The court must order an examination of the defendant’s mental condition. The court must appoint an examiner to examine the defendant and report to the court on the defendant’s mental condition. The written report addresses the following items: (1) a diagnosis of the defendant’s mental condition; (2) if the defendant is mentally ill or cognitively impaired, an opinion as to the defendant’s capacity to understand the proceedings or participate in the defense; and (3) the factual basis for the diagnosis and opinion.” 

“Under Rule 20.01, Subd. 5 if either party files a written objection to the competency report, the court must hold a contested hearing. Evidence can be presented at the contested hearing concerning the defendant’s mental condition including the court appointed examiner’s report. The court appointed examiner can be a witness at the hearing subject to questioning by the attorneys for each side. The party challenging competency can present evidence also. Following the hearing, the court determines competency using the legal standard of a fair preponderance of the evidence or the greater weight of the evidence.”

The defense counsel filed a written objection to the report earlier this week, so Thursday’s hearing was expected to be very brief, as the process of Rule 20.01, Subd. 5 kicked in the contested hearing process. Ulrich’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 11, at which time both the prosecution and defense can present arguments to the judge concerning the details of the Rule 20 report that was filed with the court.

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