a retro bulbar hematoma, six fractures to the left frontal sinus,
an orbital fracture, and brain swelling. Rudisill was admitted to
D.C. General Hospital where he remained in a comatose state for
approximately one month. On January 22, 1996, Rudisill was
transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital's Brain
Injury Unit, where he remained until the Court, on April 17,
1996, ordered his release to his mother's custody for continued
medical care on an outpatient basis.
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
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
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
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
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
It appears from the record that the remaining suspects in the
underlying case have not been identified and therefore have not
been brought to trial.
The criminal trial of a mentally incompetent defendant is a
violation of due process. Cooper v. Oklahoma, 517 U.S. 348,
354, 116 S.Ct. 1373, 1376, 134 L.Ed.2d 498 (1996). The defendant
bears the burden of proof to demonstrate that he lacks the mental
competency to stand trial and must do so by a preponderance of
the evidence. Cooper, 517 U.S. at 362, 116 S.Ct. at 1380;
18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). The Court finds that Rudisill has met his
burden and has proven that he is not competent to stand trial in
this matter nor will he attain the capacity to become competent
in the foreseeable future.
In Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 4
L.Ed.2d 824 (1960) (per curiam), the Supreme Court set out the
standard for determining a defendant's competency to stand trial
as whether the defendant has "sufficient present ability to
consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding — and whether he has a rational as well as factual
understanding of the proceedings against him."
Clearly this burden has been met. The Court concludes, on the
testimony of Dr. Coleman, Mrs. Rudisill, and Rudisill, and on the
basis of the evaluations by Dr. Garmoe and Dr. McCarthy, that
Rudisill lacks the mental capacity to understand the criminal
proceedings against him and
would be incapable of assisting his attorney in any meaningful
manner in preparing his defense. The Court reaches this finding
even though confronted by seemingly conflicting medical
evaluations. Overall, the reports by all of the examining
professionals are consistent in their findings that Rudisill has
sustained neurocognitive deficiencies as a result of his
injuries; they only differ in their conclusions as to the extent
of damage. The Court is inclined to concur with the conclusions
of Drs. Garmoe and McCarthy that Rudisill displays evidence of
moderate to severe neurocognitive damage, which was corroborated
by the expert testimony of Dr. Coleman, see United States v.
Caldwell, 543 F.2d 1333, 1348 (D.C.Cir. 1974), and by the
testimony of Mrs. Rudisill and the Court's observations of
That Dr. Johnson and Dr. Landis have concluded that Rudisill is
competent to stand trial is not dispositive of the issue. This is
particularly so because the Court rejects certain of their
findings. Specifically, the Court finds little support for their
finding that Rudisill was a malingerer. The Court has been able
to observe Rudisill from early on in these proceedings. Drs.
Johnson and Landis do not dispute that Rudisill was critically
beaten in prison, that he was in a coma for some four weeks or
that he has sustained permanent brain damage. They agree that at
some point Rudisill was incompetent to stand trial. What Dr.
Johnson could not tell the Court in her testimony was at what
point did Rudisill become a "malingerer." Dr. Johnson was unable
to convince the Court that Rudisill was dissembling by his
inability to recall the events surrounding the charges against
him. At no point in his numerous court appearances has Rudisill
been able to recall those events. At no time has the Court ever
entertained the thought that he was "malingering."
When the Court first observed Rudisill he was in an extremely
poor physical and mental state. While over the years he has shown
some improvement, he still exhibits mental deficits that
demonstrate his incompetency to stand trial. Although Dr. Johnson
in her report stated that Rudisill's memory might be aided by
injection of sodium amytal, the court will not order such
treatment. When a court has to resort to compelling a defendant
to take "truth serum" in order to stand trial, we are coming very
close to the denial of substantive "due process," an issue that
this court does not believe it needs to reach in this proceeding.
Dr. Johnson's finding of malingering is unsubstantiated.
The determination of competency remains with the Court, see
United States v. David, 511 F.2d 355, 360 n. 9 (D.C.Cir. 1975),
which is not limited solely to evaluating medical opinions in
reaching its competency determination. It may rely on a variety
of other factors including observation of the defendant's
behavior. See United States v. Nichols, 56 F.3d 403, 411 (2d
Cir. 1995); United States v. Hemsi, 901 F.2d 293, 295-96 (2d
Rudisill does not present a substantial risk of bodily harm to
others or serious damage to the property of others that would
warrant the return of his custody to the Government. See
18 U.S.C. § 4241(d), 4246(a). Although Rudisill appears to have
once been a violent offender and suffered from drug addiction
prior to his merciless beating, the Court finds that Rudisill is
no longer violent, does not engage in illegal drug use, and
appears to have benefitted from home confinement in the custody
of his mother. By finding that Rudisill is not competent to stand
trial and that he will not be a threat to others or their
property, the Court will not recommit Rudisill to the custody of
General. See United States v. Wheeler, 744 F. Supp. 633, 639-40
In discussing whether Rudisill should be permitted to recover
at home even if he was found not competent to stand trial, the
Government makes much of the point of the serious nature of the
crime Rudisill is alleged to have committed and his past criminal
conduct that has resulted in his incarceration of some 26 years.
As Dr. Coleman testified, Rudisill is a much different person
today than he was in his "anti social" years. He is a different
person both physically and mentally. His physical and mental
defects prevent him from living an existence by himself. He needs
to be supervised in virtually all his daily chores. Indeed, it is
difficult to conceive of a job he could perform for remuneration.
To commit him to the custody of the Attorney General at the
present time would neither serve the ends of justice or be fair
to Rudisill. While the Government is certainly correct in
pointing out Rudisill's prior criminal history, it must bear
responsibility for his current state. The brutal attack on
Rudisill by some eight fellow inmates while in pre-trial
detention is something that should not have happened. When the
Government takes custody of a pre-trial detainee, it must take
all steps necessary to protect that person's physical well being.
Clearly the Government failed in that responsibility.
The Court ordered Rudisill's pre-trial detention at which point
he was brutally beaten. It will not at this time subject him to
the same environment. It would be unjust for the Government to
benefit from its failed responsibilities to protect Rudisill when
he was in pre-trial custody. Since the Court has found it is
unlikely that Rudisill will ever be competent to stand trial, a
commitment to the custody of the Attorney General would, in
effect, be a life sentence for Rudisill. Balancing the equities
compels the Court to conclude that Rudisill should not be placed
in the custody of the Attorney General for the rest of his life.