During a pre-trial hearing yesterday, a New Haven Superior Court judge granted Yale’s motion to quash a subpoena submitted by the man accused of murdering a Yale-New Haven Hospital postgraduate fellow in 2010.
Lishan Wang, the defendant in the case of Vajinder Toor’s murder, sought to compel Yale to release the “personnel, disciplinary and human resources records,” of the deceased last December. After Wang submitted the subpoena, Yale motioned in early January to quash Wang’s motion. Although Wang, who is representing himself, submitted a memorandum in further support of his subpoena, Judge Thomas O’Keefe Jr. ruled that Wang had not provided sufficient evidence to compel Yale to release those files.
“I read your submission Mr. Wang, and there’s nothing in your submission that convinced me that there is anything relevant in the files of Dr. Toor,” O’Keefe said during yesterday’s pre-trial hearing.
Though O’Keefe granted Yale’s motion to quash the subpoena, he did tell Wang that if it becomes more clearly relevant later on in the trial, he may resubmit the motion.
In 2010, Wang was arrested for the murder of Toor, who was a postgraduate fellow at Yale-New Haven. Wang allegedly shot and killed Toor, and shot his pregnant wife at the couple’s home in Branford, Connecticut. Wang has been accused of murder, attempted murder and several weapons charges. Both Toor and Wang had worked at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center between 2006 and 2008 as medical residents. Wang was terminated from his post at KJMC in 2008, and has a pending civil case of wrongful termination.
In his memorandum of support of the subpoena, Wang alleged that Toor had discriminated against him while they worked together, and that Wang had been mislabeled by Toor and his colleagues as “‘violent,’ ‘mentally unstable’ and ‘with memory loss.’” Wang’s hope in obtaining the personnel documents from the University, according to the memorandum, was to expose “Toor’s character, behavior pattern, habit, bias, prejudice, trait, credibility, truthfulness.”
Early on in the hearing, O’Keefe asked Wang whether or not he had chosen to pursue a psychiatric defense. Because Wang said that he had not yet been able to speak to an expert, O’Keefe gave him an extension on the decision until the end of the month. Wang has also had difficulty finding an investigator to gather and analyze criminal evidence for his case, and so the judge said he would bring Wang back to the courthouse in two weeks to address this issue. The judge decided that because Wang has neither settled this issue of submitting a psychiatric defense nor managed to find an investigator for his case, several motions — including being allowed to have more boxes in his prison cell — could not be addressed yesterday.
Wang has filed over 200 motions since the case opened.
Supervisor of the public defender’s office for the Judicial District of New Haven Thomas Ullman has submitted a motion to revoke Wang’s right to represent himself. The judge ruled that arguments for replacing Wang as his own counsel will be on Feb. 24. Because the last time Wang was tested for competency to stand trial was in September 2010, O’Keefe ordered an additional competency exam to be ready by Feb. 24.
Ullman asked that the competency exam encompass the ability to represent himself in court, but O’Keefe denied that motion.
O’Keefe stressed that context was central to his ability to make decisions about motions.
“I have to monitor your competence to stand trial every day. I need some updated information,” said O’Keefe.
Several times during the hearing, O’Keefe pointed out that some of the difficulties the defendant faces — such as effectively navigating legal procedures — are inherent to self-representation. In an interview with the News, Wang’s standby counsel and public defender, Jeffrey LaPierre, said Wang has chosen to exercise his pro se right because he believes that only he has his best interests in mind.
In 1975 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Faretta v. California that criminal defendants have the right to represent themselves in criminal cases, but this constitutional right is not absolute.