Matthew Harris, a former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has been found mentally unfit to stand trial by a federal judge in Denver.
This decision was made after Harris’s lawyers filed a motion in October 2021, seeking a determination of Harris’s competency to stand trial. An examination by a forensic psychiatrist found that Harris was currently suffering from a mental disease or defect, which rendered him incompetent to proceed with his defense.
Harris was accused of sending emails and videos threatening violence against UCLA and its staff and students. He had pleaded not guilty to these allegations and was arrested in Boulder, Colorado, where he had been living. Court documents show that Harris was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution after he allegedly threatened his mother.
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Harris had been teaching in UCLA’s philosophy department until March 2021, when he was put on investigatory leave for allegedly sending inappropriate and violent content to his students. The red flags about his concerning behavior towards women had followed him throughout his academic journey, starting from his studies at Duke and Cornell universities.
To determine whether his mental condition may improve enough for him to stand trial in the future, Harris will be hospitalized and treated for his mental illness. The judge has ordered a written report on Harris’s mental condition by May 27.
In conclusion, this ruling sheds light on the importance of addressing mental health issues and the potential dangers they pose to individuals and society as a whole. Those suffering from mental illness must receive the necessary treatment and support.
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