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Defense attorneys told to subpoena documents on Desai’s competency

Doctor was at the center of Las Vegas hepatitis C case

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Sam Morris

Dr. Dipak Desai enters court for a competency proceeding Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 | 3:18 p.m.

Defense attorneys told to subpoena documents on Desai's competency

Defense attorneys for Dipak Desai, the Las Vegas physician at the center of the hepatitis C scare in 2007 and 2008, were told this morning they will have about a month to subpoena documents from state authorities who say Desai is competent to stand trial.

Dr. Dipak Desai Hearing - Oct. 11, 2011

Dr. Dipak Desai appears in court for a competency hearing Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Defense attorneys for Dipak Desai, the Las Vegas physician at the center of the hepatitis C scare in 2007 and 2008, were told this morning they will have about a month to subpoena documents from state authorities who say Desai is competent to stand trial.

Judge Kathleen Delaney told Desai’s lead attorney, Richard Wright, she would then have a status check at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 to see if Desai’s defense team has received all of the “voluminous” documents they are expected to subpoena from the doctors at Lake's Crossing Center for the Mentally Disabled in Sparks.

Wright had asked the court to provide him with the material, but Delaney told Wright she would give him until noon Friday to issue a subpoena for the documents and that she would give the Lake’s Crossing authorities 30 days to produce the material.

Wright said he needs the documentation so the defense’s own medical experts can examine what the state’s experts had to say about Desai. The judge said she would give the state until Nov. 14 to produce the documentation and that a status check hearing will be held the next day to make sure the defense got all the material they requested.

Desai was taken into custody on March 17 and then taken to the Lake’s Crossing Center in March for evaluation and treatment. Last month Desai was released from that hospital, with the indication that those who evaluated him had ruled him competent.

Desai, who is now out of custody on $1 million bail, appeared at today’s hearing. He was steered into court by family members, then stood next to Wright during the hearing.

Wright told the judge he believes that although Desai understands he is in court, he doesn’t understand what the proceedings are about and therefore he cannot participate in helping in his own defense.

Desai’s attorneys have said in the past he has suffered two strokes, the most recent after the hepatitis C outbreak, and suffers from other medical ailments that do not allow him to participate in his own defense.

Desai’s trial has been delayed until March 12, 2012.

Desai, 61, who ran the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and two of his nurse anaesthetists, Keith H. Mathahs and Ronald E. Lakeman, were indicted by a grand jury last year on 28 criminal counts related to the 2007-2008 hepatitis outbreak.

The felony charges include racketeering, performance of an act in reckless disregard of persons or property, criminal neglect of patients, insurance fraud, theft and obtaining money under false pretenses.

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