MAPA Prez Nativo Lopez: Trial or Mental Competency Court?


Nativo Lopez, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) National President, appeared on August 6, 2010, in Los Angeles Superior Court Dept. 123, for a hearing regarding his mental competency to stand trial, based upon the opinions of two court-appointed psychiatrists. 

Judge Patricia Schnegg had ordered the examinations to establish (1) whether Lopez is capable of understanding the nature of the charges against him and (2) capable of cooperating with counsel during a trial on eight felony charges related to voter fraud.

Lopez, represented by Public Defender John Powers, refused to identify himself, as he has done repeatedly at prior hearings. Judge Schnegg informed him that the report by one of the psychiatrists had not been received, and she would grant him the option of agreeing to re-examination by the same doctor, with the requirement that he provide valid identification at that time. 

As Lopez defiantly launched into his well-memorized tirade on “conditional acceptance,” the Judge advised him that his failure to agree could result in the court immediately ordering him to a state mental facility, based on the one psychiatrist’s determination that he is mentally incompetent. That jogged Nativo’s memory sufficiently to agree to the second appointment. Judge Schnegg set the next hearing for September 20, 2010, in Dept. 123.

A handful of supporters appeared in court and after the hearing surrounded Lopez in the hallway, where he described in Spanish with great clarity what had just occurred. It appeared that his competency to understand the proceedings were unimpaired at this particular time, as he eagerly answered questions and elucidated on details.

Nativo Lopez was previously sent to Dept. 95, Mental Competency Court, where he was found by the examining psychiatrist to be mentally competent after spending one night in jail for refusing to identify himself to Judge Maria Stratton. In this second determination, the prosecution and defense were each allowed to select one psychiatrist to examine him. Should the doctors differ in their findings, the standard resolution would be for the judge to hold a hearing and make the final determination.

Lopez has been the center of many public controversies and investigations. Among the most notable were claims that he misused funds granted by the CA Department of Education for English classes for immigrant students. As a result, he was recalled from the Santa Ana School Board by an overwhelming 71% of the mainly Latino voters of the district.

Nativo’s current legal problems result from allegations that he registered to vote from the Boyle Heights office address of his Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana organization while still living in Orange County, allegedly to serve on the Board of the Green Party.

Lopez’s activities have also included advocacy for cockfighting, which he contends is a Mexican cultural tradition and an intrinsic part of the Latino economy.


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