A Ramsey County judge ruled Wednesday that Clinton Fouquette is incompetent to stand trial, and will refer him to be evaluated for civil commitment. Fouquette is accused of driving a car into the fence of the governor's mansion on Nov. 25. At the time, he said he had medical problems and was tired of "all the electricity" under his skin.
Fouquette appeared in court in Ramsey County, wearing a green, short-sleeved jail jumpsuit, glasses and his beard trimmed into a neat mustache and goatee. During the short hearing, he stood quietly near his attorney. The only time he spoke was to thank the judge at the end of the hearing.
If he is civilly committed, Fouquette can be hospitalized for mental health care against his will. For now, his criminal case is on hold. It will stay on hold until he is found competent to stand trial — that is, able to understand the proceedings against him and help in his own defense.
After the judge said she would be referring the case for commitment, Fouquette's attorney raised concerns about what will happen if he is not found committable. Minnesota's Department of Human Services recently decided that it would not provide services to make people competent to stand trial. Instead, it said, it's the counties' responsibility to get defendants well enough for their cases to proceed.
So far, though, Ramsey County has not come up with a plan for how to do that, so a defendant who is found too sick to stand trial, but not sick enough to be hospitalized, could be stuck in an indefinite legal limbo.
The judge agreed with the attorney's concern and promised to review the case again if the state decides that Fouquette is not sick enough to be hospitalized against his will.