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U.S. v. RUDISILL

March 16, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ANNUAL DAVID RUDISILL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sporkin, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the issue of Defendant Anual Rudisill's competency to stand trial. On November 16, 1995, Rudisill was charged on a three count indictment for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), 924(c), 922(g), and 924(e), based on his arrest on October 20, 1995, as one of three suspects in the armed robbery of a check cashing store. On October 27, 1995, Rudisill was ordered committed to the custody of the Attorney General for pretrial detention, and was incarcerated at the Central Detention Facility of the D.C. Department of Corrections pending further proceedings.

Based on Rudisill's injuries, the Court, in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a), 4241(c), and 4247(d), held several hearings to determine whether Rudisill was competent to stand trial. By its Memorandum Opinion and Order dated April 28, 1998, the Court concluded that Rudisill had the mental capacity of a child of tender years and that by a preponderance of the evidence Rudisill was not mentally competent to stand trial at that time. On September 10, 1998, the Court committed Rudisill to the custody of the Attorney General pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d) to determine whether there was a substantial probability that he would attain the mental capacity to stand trial in the foreseeable future.

Rudisill was admitted to the Federal Correctional Institution at Butner, North Carolina ("Butner"). He was evaluated over the course of approximately 30 days and then released on October 9, 1998 back to the custody of his mother. On October 16, 1998, Dr. Sally Johnson, acting warden at Butner, filed a Certificate of Restoration of Competency to Stand Trial. As reported in their Forensic Evaluation of Rudisill, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Edward Landis of Butner found that Rudisill suffered from mild neurocognitive disorder and some pre- and post-trauma amnesia but that he was, in their opinion, mentally competent to stand trial. Although Rudisill appeared confused on matters relating to his criminal charges, Drs. Johnson and Landis explained that Rudisill's confusion was actually evidence of malingering and evasiveness and did not militate against their finding that Rudisill was mentally competent to stand trial.

On November 3, 1998, on the basis of the report by Drs. Johnson and Landis, the Government filed a Motion for Determination of the Defendant's Competency to Stand Trial Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(e). In its motion, the Government stated that since Drs. Johnson and Landis concluded that Rudisill was found competent to stand trial, the only remaining issue was whether his pre- and post-trauma amnesia made him otherwise incompetent to stand trial. The Government contended that Rudisill's amnesia was not a sufficient legal basis to reverse the finding of mental competency.

On January 27, 1999, the Court ordered Rudisill to submit to additional medical and psychiatric evaluations because the Court faced conflicting evaluations. Dr. Roy Coleman, staff psychiatrist at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, had examined Rudisill on prior occasions. Earlier in these proceedings, he testified before the Court offering his opinion that Rudisill was not competent to stand trial.

Pursuant to court order, Rudisill was examined by Dr. William Garmoe of the National Rehabilitation Hospital ("NRH") on January 5, 13, and 14, 1999, by Dr. Andrew McCarthy of NRH on February 10, 1999, and again by Dr. Coleman on February 18, 1999. Dr. Garmoe found that Rudisill continues to exhibit severe cognitive impairment. He diagnosed Rudisill as suffering from dementia due to head trauma. Dr. McCarthy like Dr. Garmoe disputed the ultimate conclusions of Drs. Johnson and Landis. He diagnosed Rudisill as suffering from moderate to severe cognitive impairment.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(e), on March 2, 1999, the Court held a hearing to determine whether Rudisill had the mental competency to stand trial and, if not, whether he would be mentally competent to stand trial in the foreseeable future. At the hearing, the Court reviewed the written evaluations of Drs. Johnson and Landis, Garmoe, and McCarthy.*fn1 The Court heard the testimony of Dr. Coleman, Rudisill's mother Pearl Rudisill, and Rudisill. Dr. Coleman testified regarding his four separate examinations of Rudisill, conducted on July 11, 1996, December 5, 1996, February 12, 1998, and February 18, 1999, and stated that he did not find Rudisill competent to stand trial. Dr. Coleman concluded that Rudisill has severe cognitive impairment. He found only limited improvement between his February 12, 1998 and February 18, 1999 evaluations and contrary to Dr. Johnson he found no evidence of intentional exaggeration of symptoms. Dr. Coleman noted that Rudisill now has a different personality and no longer had the "violent" personality he had before his attack.

Dr. Coleman testified that Rudisill at trial would not be able to testify on his own behalf. He stated Rudisill could not understand the concept of a plea bargain, even though, to some degree, he could possibly understand the charges against him. Dr. Coleman concluded that it was unlikely that Rudisill would ever become mentally competent to stand trial.

Pearl Rudisill, who has served as Rudisill's custodian during his home confinement, testified regarding her son's daily activities. She said Rudisill could not drive an automobile. She stated he can pick out his clothes although they are not always coordinated. On a daily basis Rudisill watches television news and children's programs and reads portions of the newspaper. Mrs. Rudisill only permits her son to walk one block from the house alone.

The Court also interviewed Rudisill. It is obvious from his response to questions Rudisill clearly suffers from numerous speech and motor impairments. Rudisill had difficulty expressing himself and often resorted to symbols or hand gestures to aid him. Rudisill was able to explain that he knew he had been in prison although he did not know why and that he knows he used illegal drugs before but does not currently use them. He has absolutely no recollection of the facts underlying the charges against him.

It appears from the record that the remaining suspects in the underlying case have not been identified and therefore ...


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