On Monday, the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is scheduled to resume. There's been no end of speculation about the former Olympic sprinter: his alleged crime, his state of mind, his possible punishment, his intense courtroom behaviors. The Pistorius trial has already dragged on far longer than scheduled, and nothing about the process has seemed to go quickly or smoothly — the psychiatric report on Pistorius, which needs to be signed by all four presiding doctors before being made official, has been delayed after psychiatrist Dr. Leon Fine suffered a heart attack on Thursday.
Thankfully, Fine is expected to be okay. He was quickly hospitalized, and he's expected to be released Friday, and to sign off on the psych report — while the outcome of the evaluation isn't yet known, their conclusion is reportedly unanimous, according to eNCA reporter Karyn Maughan.
Still, this latest delay underscores a pattern of complications, delays, and unexpected interruptions over the course of an already-long trial. After all, when the trial first began, it was scheduled from March 3 to March 20, a wildly optimistic prediction — and as it turns out, wildly incorrect.
At the very least, a unanimous judgment by the psychiatric panel in either direction will have a strong impact on the outcome of the case. It's possible that the report will make it pretty clear what's going to happen — a clean bill of mental health means Pistorius is more likely to face a murder conviction, while a diagnosis backing up his defense team's expert testimony — that Pistorius suffers from generalized anxiety disorder — would dramatically increase the chances of a reprieve.
But to actually get the official word, when Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers her verdict on this lengthy case, well... it's gonna be a little while. According to the Daily Maverick, when the trial last halted in late May, there were thought to be three defense witnesses left to call, one of them a psychologist (whose testimony could end up getting badly undercut, depending on the results of Pistorius' evaluation).
Once that handful of witnesses are finished up with, it's time for the two sides to start prepping their closing arguments, and that could tack a whole extra month's delay into the proceedings. So, basically, a trial that the two sides initially projected for 17 days in the middle of March is now going to run well into July, and quite likely August. When it's all said and done, that'll have been a miscalculation of well over 100 days.
If there's any silver lining in all this, it may be that seismic nature of the trial has sparked an interest in South Africa's youth that could someday benefit an overworked legal system — universities are reportedly flooded with applications from students wanting to study law, according to The Telegraph, a phenomenon being attributed to the dramatic courtroom proceedings being televised 24/7 across South Africa.