(Las Vegas, NV) — Dr. Dipak Desai made his first public appearance in several months this morning, appearing for a brief hearing at the Regional Justice Center regarding his mental competency. Desai, 61, is facing multiple charges in connection with the 2007 hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas that was linked to unsafe medical practices at his endoscopy clinics. His attorney, Richard Wright, has argued that Desai is unfit for trial because of a series of strokes Desai suffered more than two years ago. However, following six months of observation at the Lakes Crossing mental hospital in Sparks, two court-appointed doctors recently ruled Desai was competent to stand trial. Wright asked the court to turn order all of Desai’s records turned over by the hospital. But at today’s hearing, Judge Kathleen Delaney told Wright “you’ll do it yourself,” ordering him to subpoena the records from the hospital and giving him 30 days to report back to court for a status check.
Desai sat quietly during the hearing, while Wright argued his client is mentally unfit for trial. Wright told the judge that Desai lacks the “cognitive ability” to understand the details of the case and to properly assist his legal counsel. Wright added that Desai “knows we’re in court and knows who we are,” but doesn’t comprehend much about the case beyond that.
Judge Delaney noted that it will likely take 20-30 days for the hospital to produce all of Desai’s records, but added that she will not unnecessarily delay the entire proceedings while waiting for endless reviews of the records. She ordered Wright to have a list of specific witnesses he will question about the records when he comes back to court next month.
Desai and Wright declined to comment upon exiting the courtroom.