HOUSTON — A neurologist who evaluated Bob Brockman as an expert witness for the government testified Monday during the first day of a competency hearing for the former Reynolds and Reynolds Co. CEO that he does not have an accurate representation of Brockman’s cognitive abilities.
Dr. Ryan Darby testified on the first day of a hearing to determine whether Brockman is competent to stand trial on charges of tax evasion that symptoms of cognitive impairment that Brockman has presented are worse than brain imaging would suggest.
Darby, an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who specializes in behavioral neurology, testified that he believes Brockman’s symptoms are consistent with Parkinson’s disease and reflect mild cognitive impairment that could have progressed to mild dementia based on images from brain scans and knowledge of how the illness progresses.
Prosecutors last week outlined Darby’s expert report in a court filing previewing their competency case, writing that Darby “also concluded that the Defendant’s current assessments do not accurately reflect his true level of cognitive impairment, and therefore, he is unable to determine if the Defendant is competent to stand trial.”
Federal prosecutors and attorneys for Brockman outlined their competency cases in a Houston courtroom.
The competency hearing, expected to last a week, is intended to assess whether Brockman, 80, can assist in his defense against charges of tax evasion and wire fraud. Brockman attended the hearing and sat at the end of the defense team's table.
In opening statements Monday, prosecutors outlined “the extraordinary lengths that a man is willing to go to evade accountability,” and said Brockman had both the motivation and capacity to malinger, or fake symptoms, to avoid prosecution.
Prosecutor Lee Langston told U.S. District Judge George Hanks Jr. in his opening statement that understanding Brockman’s motivation and capacity requires a broader look at both the evidence against him in the government’s criminal case and at the juxtaposition between the image presented in doctors’ exam rooms and the life he lived outside of those rooms.
That includes, he said, Brockman’s continued work as CEO of privately held dealership management system giant Reynolds and Reynolds until after he was indicted in October 2020 and after his symptoms were said to have appeared.
“The evidence will clearly show that the defendant has been living a double life for years,” Langston said.
In a court filing last week, Brockman's lawyers wrote that "recent neuroimaging and testing supports that Mr. Brockman has either or a combination of Parkinson's disease dementia, or Alzheimer's disease dementia," and that the dementia is "permanent, progressive and incurable."
Brockman attorney Kathy Keneally said during her opening statement Monday that the discussion of past events in the government’s case, as prosecutors outlined, is not the question on the table during the competency hearing.
“The question is can Bob Brockman assist today, going forward, through a trial in this case,” Keneally said.
She said Brockman doesn’t recall what his attorneys tell him, including discussions of a course of action that Brockman can’t remember several days later.
“There’s only one issue before the court at this hearing: Can Bob Brockman today understand criminal proceedings that have been brought against him and assist his counsel in his defense?” she said. “Does Bob have the sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyers with a reasonable degree of rational understanding? Can Bob today and going forward participate in a meaningful way in his defense? He can not.”