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phillips, hunt & walker About The Case

Our offices represented 128 victims of Dr. Howard S. Schneider, the Jacksonville pediatric dentist who was accused by his victims of dental malpractice, dental abuse and accused by the State of corresponding billing fraud. On May 24, 2016, there was a hearing in the State of Florida v. Howard S. Schneider, involving whether Schneider was competent to stand trial. On February 26, 2018, it seems apparent that Schneider’s competency was not something which was going to “get better.” His mental health is the same or worse.

2016 Incompetency Hearing

Attorney Bill Sheppard appeared for former dentist Mr. Schneider. He submitted two affidavits to the court from various medical professionals, which essentially stated that Dr. Schneider has some form of incompetency, challenging whether he can adequately stand trial due to dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The prosecution wanted a more independent neuropsychologist to examine Schneider. The Court ruled Dr. Umesh M. Mhatre would examine Dr. Schneider. This choice is a little unusual because Dr. Mhatre “specializes in Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry” according to his biography. However, Dr. Mhatre has testified in many cases, including in front of Judge Cox, and certainly should have the ability and credentials to make the determination necessary.

2017-2018 Incompetency Reviews

Since 2016, there have been periodic reviews where Mr. Schneider has undergone additional testing. Although not released publicly, we suspect it substantiated dementia or other mental illness such that the State of Florida dropped all charges on February 26, 2018.

“Nol Pros” 

The cases notes listed below indicate dropped charges by the state. Also called “nolle,” “nol pross,” or “nolle prosequi,” it is a disposition by the prosecution after filing of a case in court, but before judgment. Can it be refiled? It is possible if the Court leaves the option open under the specific circumstances of this case.

To us, it is a sign that Howard Schneider’s 81-year-old body and mind will never stand trial for his actions in a courtroom.

Incompetency: What does it mean?

As we explain in our blog, Incompetency to Stand Trial: What Does it Mean?, in criminal court proceedings, competency refers to a defendant’s ability to proceed and participate in the various stages of a case. By law, defendants are found incompetent to proceed if they do not:

  • ♦ understand the charges/allegations against them,
  • ♦ comprehend the possible penalties,
  • ♦ understand the adversarial nature of the legal process,
  • ♦ have the ability to disclose to an attorney pertinent facts that would aid in their defense,
  • ♦ exhibit appropriate courtroom behavior,
  • ♦ have the ability to testify relevantly.

Specifically, the relevant Florida law states:

916.12 Mental competence to proceed.—

(1) A defendant is incompetent to proceed within the meaning of this chapter if the defendant does not have sufficient present ability to consult with her or his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding or if the defendant has no rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings against her or him.

Mental health experts appointed pursuant to s. 916.115 shall first determine whether the defendant has a mental illness. If and when a defendant is found incompetent to proceed, criminal court proceedings are halted. If competency is restored, defendants return to court and criminal case proceedings resume.

Wait a Minute…

This all begs the question of when did he “become incompetent”? Clearly, Schneider performed procedures, including x-rays, over and over again and did work on teeth he didn’t plan to. For years, victims can show he did vast amounts of unwarranted dental work. Was this intentional for billing fraud or because of dementia? Or some combination of both?

In Conclusion…

Schneider has lost his licenses, his practice, had both office and home foreclosed, has virtually no wealth left and has even left Jacksonville in shame. As we commonly say, justice is spelled one way, but defined many different ways. The families of victims wanted to see a criminal conviction, but won’t. No plea bargain. No real explanation. It’s all sad, but these families saved other families and that is truly JUSTICE.

More Information:

General Information About Dental Abuse Civil Cases:

Case Against Howard S. Schneider:

National News Stories About Schneider Case:

Other Resources:

Evidence Locker:

The Law Offices of John Phillips are based in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, Florida, but John is licensed in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and before the U.S. Supreme Court. We will consult wherever injustice lives. In addition to personal injury and wrongful death, our firm handles family law matters and select criminal defense cases. You can contact us at