Lawyer Defends The Nose Doc's Mental State

Feds claim the former fugitive appears he doesn't understand the case

The lawyer for Nose Doctor Mark Weinberger is flaring his nostrils over prosecutors attempts to subject his client to a mental evaluation.

Earlier this month, prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to order Weinberger -- the fugitive surgeon who tried to stab himself in the neck when authorities found him in a tent in Northern Italy -- to undergo a mental evaluation before his trial begins, the Northwest Indiana Times reports.

Prosecutors are questioning whether Weinberger's lack of substantial responses in previous hearings suggests he doesn't comprehend what's happening.

Weinberger is charged with bilking insurance companies by billing patients for work he never performed at his Merrillville clinic.

His lawyer, Adam Tavitas, objected in a motion. He described his 46-year-old client as competent in each of their seven meetings.

"Counsel has no doubt that the defendant is able to understand the charges against him," he wrote. "Additionally, there is no doubt that the defendant is able to assist counsel in his own defense."

The judge's decision could seriously impact Tavitas' strategy. 

A pretrial competency evaluation will examine if a defendant is mentally capable of participating in his own defense. An insanity defense will depend on other factors and the mental state of the defendant when the alleged crime took place.

He vanished almost six years ago during a trip to Greece in 2004. The former doctor left behind $7 million in mounting debt.

But Weinberger returned to a 22-count indictment and hundreds of civil malpractice claims waiting for him.

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