LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1970
(Upon the above date, in Department 100 before the Honorable George M. Dell, attorney Sam Bubrick being present, the People being represented by Burton Katz, Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County, the following proceedings were had ex parte:)
THE COURT: This is the matter of People versus Charles Watson, Case No. A-253156.
The record will indicate that Mr. Sam Bubrick is here on behalf of the defendant and Deputy District Attorney Burton Katz on behalf of the People.
I'd like the record to reflect the sequence of events that have transpired. It's obvious that the defendant is not present and there is a reason for it. But just so the record will be clear, at the most recent court appearance at which Mr. Watson was present, Mr. Bubrick then representing him, I, at the request of Mr. Bubrick, appointed three psychiatrists to examine Mr. Watson and report. Initially it was to be done to the Court and thereafter, at Mr. Bubrick's request, and perfectly legitimately and more appropriately, to report directly to Mr. Bubrick under Sections 730 and 1017 of the Evidence Code on certain aspects of Mr. Watson's mental condition.
At that time, with the knowledge of the District Attorney, who is present, I had been informed by Mr. Bubrick, that is, prior to the time of the court appearance, that there was in Mr. Bubrick’s mind a question as to the defendant’s mental condition in that he would not communicate and that he was exhibiting certain items of bizarre behavior.
I appointed Doctors Marcus Crahan, who is the medical director for the Department of the Sheriff, or, perhaps more familiarly known as the jail physician, George Abe, the director of the Metropolitan State Hospital, and Seymour Pollock, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California and director of the Institute of Law and Psychiatry of the University of Southern California Law Center, to examine Mr. Watson.
Primarily I was concerned about his ability to stand trial under Penal Code Section 1368, his ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings taken against him and to cooperate with his counsel in presenting a defense. As a subsidiary matter I also, if we got to that point, wanted the psychiatrist to report on whether or not Mr. Watson was sane at the time of the commission of the alleged offenses and whether he could form the certain necessary mental states necessary to commit the crime of murder, which is charged against him.
I did not see Dr. Pollock’s original report -- not Dr. Pollock's, but, Dr. Crahan’s original report, because in conformity with my order it was to be confidential to Mr. Bubrick until the confidentiality disappeared. That report was rendered, I am now aware, on October 21st.
On Wednesday, October the 28th, Mr. Bubrick contacted to, indicated he had attempted to reach Mr. Katz. He had not been able to do so at that point. He took the liberty of contacting me directly and indicated great concern in the psychiatric and physical condition of Mr. Watson.
He was concerned that Mr. Watson was losing a great deal of weight, was not responding or communicating, and appeared to be in serious condition.
Shortly thereafter, I received a direct telephone call from Dr. Crahan who has a dual capacity as far as this particular case is concerned as the medical director for the Department of the Sheriff, also referred to as jail physician, and as an appointed psychiatrist in this case. And evidently he had been in contact with Mr. Bubrick and he gave me essentially the same sort of information.
I had told Mr. Bubrick when I spoke to him that if what Dr. Crahan -- if Dr. Crahan presented to me the facts that he had presented to Mr. Bubrick, I would feel it mandatory on my own motion to advance this hearing, which originally was set one week from today, November 6th, to the earliest possible time and bring Mr. Watson in for a present sanity hearing.
I received on October 29th delivered to me a medical report from -- a copy of the report to Mr. Bubrick. At that point I felt that there was an issue as to the defendant’s present sanity and, accordingly, the confidential status of the psychiatric reports had no longer any application and it was with my authorization and Mr. Bubrick's who concurred with my view, that I receive a supplement to the Crahan report.
During this period I was trying to reach Mr. Katz and I did, in fact, reach him. The report confirmed what I had been told on the telephone and I did set the hearing for today, giving notice to the District Attorney and to Mr. Bubrick as well, and to the Sheriff's Department.
I also received shortly after receiving the Crahan report a direct letter report from Mr. H. B. Cramer, chief of the Jail Division of the Sheriff's office. Chief Cramer similarly informed me of the serious matters that had arisen as to Mr. Watson's condition.
I took such steps as I could, having notified Mr. Bubrick and Mr. Katz that I was going to do so, to obtain directly the reports from Doctors Abe and Pollock, both of whom unfortunately were attending a conference of Judges and psychiatrists on our Superior Court psychiatric list.
I was informed by Dr. Abe informally yesterday afternoon what the content of his report would be. He had already seen Mr. Watson at that time. Dr. Pollock had not yet seen him.
I have now received the reports from all of the psychiatrists. Based on those reports I declare that there is a doubt as to the defendant Charles Watson’s present sanity within the meaning of Section 1368 of the Penal Code.
I know this recitation has been somewhat extensive but there is great interest in this case and I think that the public should know what has transpired.
I am informed by the Sheriff’s Department that physically, unless directly ordered by the Court, Mr. Watson would not be brought to court for this hearing. I feel that under the circumstances of this case there is no real purpose in having him present unless his presence is demanded by his counsel.
Are you willing to proceed in this hearing at this time without the personal presence of Mr. Watson, Mr. Bubrick?
MR. BUBRICK: Yes, your Honor. I think it's in his best interest that he not be brought to court.
THE COURT: And the District Attorney, I trust, is of the same view, Mr.. Katz?
MR. KATZ: That's correct, your Honor.
THE COURT: Have I stated essentially correctly the history of this case, perhaps with soma inadvertent departure from the exact order in which these matters happened, but is that essentially correct, Mr. Bubrick, as you recall it?
MR. BUBRICK: Yes, certainly, your Honor,
THE COURT: Mr. Katz?.
MR. KATZ: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Insofar as you are aware.
I have taken the position that there is no longer any confidentiality under Evidence Code Section 1017 in view of the fact that it’s evident from these reports that there is a doubt as to the defendant’s present sanity.
The defendant is entitled to a jury trial on this issue and, of course, if it’s desired by him, or by his counsel, the psychiatrist will personally appear.
Nevertheless, is it agreeable to you, as the defendant Watson’s counsel, and to the People as well, that the determination of present sanity be determined by this Court at this time, based on reading of the original and the supplemental reports by Dr. Crahan, the report by Dr. Pollock, the report by Dr. Abe, as well as the report by Chief A. B. Cramer of the Sheriff’s Department? Is this agreeable to your?
MR. BUBRICK: It is, your Honor, and I would so stipulate on behalf of the defendant Watson.
MR. KATZ: So stipulated.
THE COURT: That is agreeable with you as well, Mr. Katz?
MR. KATZ: Yes, your Honor, we would so stipulate on behalf of the People.
THE COURT: As I’ve indicated, I have read and considered these items. think that I should quote just in part some certain of these documents prior to reaching my decision.
I take it there would be no further evidence offered by either party, is that right, Mr. Bubrick?
MR. BUBRICK: That's right, your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Katz?
MR. KATZ: That's correct, your Honor.
THE COURT: Chronologically, I will quote -- I think I’ll read into the record completely the report of Dr. Crahan, the supplemental report which bears yesterday's date, which is essentially the information which was transmitted to me by telephone on the 28th of October.
"Since the report of examination of Mr. Charles 'Tex' Watson made on October 21st, 1970, it is felt necessary to render this supplement report, because Mr. Watson in the last week has become listless, flaccid, he makes no movements, his lips are pursed, it is impossible to spoon feed him, and we are starting to feed him by nasal tube. He it virtually vegetative, has to be shaved and bathed. His weight has dropped from 118 pounds to 110 in one week since October 21, 1970.
"He is rapidly reverting to a fetal state and is undergoing an involutional state which could be rapidly fatal. His normal weight in Texas was 160 pounds.
"It is strongly suggested that proceedings be suspended and that he be transferred to Atascadero State Hospital as quickly as possible as presently insane, according to Section 1368 Penal Code.”
I might say parenthetically that this does indicate a considerable change since the date of Dr. Crehan’s first report.
The report from the Sheriff's Department, from Chief Cramer, as I indicated, I’ll quote only in part.
"A serious weight loss has occurred, Mr. Watson being approximately six feet in height at this time weighs approximately 118 pounds. This is in marked contrast to the 160-pound weight of Mr. Watson upon his admission to the Central Jail. Watson is currently being fed via a tube inserted into his stomach through the throat. This is only a stopgap measure and should Mr. Watson continue to refuse food there is a real possibility that he may expire from malnutrition.”
From Dr. Pollock's report I’ll only quote briefly inasmuch as it is a much longer and more comprehensive report. Hit opinion generally is that Mr. Watson is not presently able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings taken place against or to cooperate in a rational manner with counsel in presenting a defense.
Among other things Dr. Pollock indicates that there was difficulty in communicating with Mr. Watson; that the defendant would stare off into space or would giggle and smile. He would not answer questions. Does indicate the same factor as to rejection of food.
During the specific interview with Dr. Pollock it is indicated that Mr. Watson remained completely mute and non-verbal, although he appeared to understand what the doctor said. He wiped his nose with Kleenex, drank water, but appeared to be on the verge of talking, tears frequently came to his eyes, he appeared markedly retarded both in his thinking and in his physical movements. He demonstrated a picture of profound depression.
History from the record indicates the likelihood of a Ganser, G-a-n-s-e-r, Syndrome. The possibility of a schizophrenia.
Dr. Pollock concluded -- felt that there was doubt that there was any true malingering in the case. He felt that Mr. Watson was definitely in a psychosis and needed definitive treatment, was even a suicide possibility.
I think that's sufficient quotation. And let me just simply quote briefly from, Dr. Abe's report.
I'll simply quote his conclusion, which is that he felt there was a schizophrenic reaction, catatonic type of mental illness. Due to his loss of weight and near inanition, it is imperative that defendant be given immediate medical and psychiatric care and treatment as a life-saving measure.
His conclusion, of course, was similar to those reached by the other doctors as to present lack of sanity under Penal Code Section 1368.
I think perhaps I do want to hear from counsel but I think in all fairness I should make this observation:
I don't think there is any question but that many individuals have suspected that Mr. Watson's behavior was of a malingering nature and I must admit to some question along that line myself. I deliberately appointed doctors whom I felt would not be easily misled by any malingering.
Dr. Crahan, who retires today after 30 years' service as director of the Sheriff's jail facilities, is, I would say, one of the least persuadable psychiatrists I can conceive of as far as any malingering is concerned. Similarly, Dr. Abe, who is the director of the Metropolitan State Hospital, and Dr. Pollock who testified for the District Attorney in the Sirhan case as an expert witness, equally are individuals who I believe would be highly unlikely to be persuaded by false claims of a mental illness.
I am convinced that what the doctors report to me is correct and that Mr. Watson is not capable at this time of appreciating the nature and purpose of the proceedings taken against him and he is absolutely incapable of cooperating with his counsel in presenting a defense. And I feel that it’s imperative that he be placed in a facility where every possible consideration can be given to him to help him recover his mental stability and his physical well being so that he can stand trial.
Before I make a formal order, I’ll be happy to hear from both counsel in this case.
MR. BUBRICK: I have nothing further to offer, your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Katz.
MR. KATZ: If I may, your Honor, just briefly, with respect to the stipulation whereby it was agreed by and between counsel that the Court would base its 1368 finding if any, upon the reports previously indicated, described by the Court, I just wanted to make it clear for the record, though I know it is self-evident to your Honor and Mr. Bubrick, that I entered into the stipulation only with respect to a 1368 issue and in no manner, shape or form are we conceding 26(a) issue at this time.
THE COURT: The only issue is present sanity, absolutely.
MR. KATZ: Thank you, your Honor.
And the last thing I wanted to say, that Mr. Younger has asked me, after full consultation with Mr. Younger and the executive staff of the District Attorney’s office, to indicate that our office is also concerned; that we feel it’s imperative as a life-saving measure to help facilitate Mr. Watson’s removal to Atascadero where he can receive the adequate medical attention and be assured that his office will do everything to assist in this fashion.
Thank you, your Honor.
THE COURT: Thank you very much. Then the matter stand submitted, gentlemen?
MR. BUBRICK: It does, your Honor.
MR. KATZ: Submit it.
THE COURT: The Court at this time makes the formal finding that the defendant Charles Watson, is presently insane within the meaning of Section 1368 of the Penal Code.
It is therefore ordered that the proceedings in this base be suspended as to Mr. Watson until he becomes sane. I now order that he be committed into the custody of the Sheriff and that he be committed by the Sheriff to a State Hospital for the care and treatment of the insane.
In this specific instance, the location will be Atascadero State Hospital, unless otherwise designated by the Director of the Department of Mental Hygiene.
His physical removal to Atascadero is to be accomplished as soon as humanly possible, provided that the director, or acting director, of the medical facilities in the County Jail feels he is able to travel.
I understand that the feeling is he will be able to travel and he will be transmitted forthwith.
MR. BUBRICK: Your Honor, I had one suggestion --
THE COURT: Mr. Bubrick.
MR. BUBRICK: I wonder if your Honor could somehow instruct the authorities at Atascadero to give whatever weight they will to Dr. Pollock's suggestion that perhaps they not indulge in electroshock therapy with Mr. Watson because of its possible potential effect for the future.
THE COURT: Yes. I’ll see that copies of all of these reports are transmitted, and I'll invite specifically the attention of Dr. Morgan to Dr, Pollock’s report.
One item I should indicate for the record, just an oversight, I attempted to reach after receiving these reports Dr. Morgan. I was not able to reach him. I reached Dr. Eckland, the associate director of Atascadero. He indicated that he’d like to have all of the reports accompany the defendant. He indicated that the State Hospital at Atascadero would accept Mr. Watson based on the information I gave him if he were, in fact, found to be presently insane.
I appreciate the suggestion. We will comply with it, Mr. Bubrick.
MR. BUBRICK: Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
MR. KATZ: Thank you, your Honor.
(Whereupon, the proceedings for the above date in Department 100 were concluded.)