New competency hearing for Banks ordered

First Posted: 8/28/2009

The state Supreme Court has ordered a new competency hearing for mass murderer George Banks, ruling former judge erred when he made a “wholesale” adoption of the findings of the defense regarding Banks’ competency to be executed.

The ruling marks the second time the high court has overturned Conahan regarding the issue of Banks’ competency. It sets the stage for a third hearing to be held on the matter.
Banks was convicted of the 1982 shooting rampage in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township that killed 13 people, including seven children.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said Conahan violated its directive that he provide an “autonomous judicial expression” when he issued an order in September 2008 finding that Banks was too mentally ill to be executed.
Rather than author his own opinion, Conahan simply signed a document that had been prepared by the defense that stated the defense’s conclusions.
“Conahan’s adoption of appellee’s proposed findings was doubly improper to the extent that the document includes finding as to questions that were well beyond the scope of the hearing,” the court wrote.

To read the complete story, see Saturday’s edition of The Times Leader and

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