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U.S. v. EDELIN

February 8, 2001

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
V.
TOMMY EDELIN, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Upon consideration of the Government's Motion for Notice and Reciprocal Discovery of Mental Health Defenses to be Raised at the Penalty Phase of Trial and for a Court-ordered Mental Evaluation of Defendant Tommy Edelin, defendant Tommy Edelin's Opposition thereto, and the relevant analysis of other federal courts, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Government's Motion.

I. Background

Defendant Tommy Edelin has been charged in the Superseding Indictment with intentional killings while engaging in, and working in furtherance of, a continuing criminal enterprise, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 848(e). On June 30, 2000, the Government filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty, in accordance with Section 848(h), and stated therein its intent to seek the death penalty if the defendant is convicted of Counts Twelve, Fourteen, or Sixteen of the Superseding Indictment. The Government has also provided the defendant with a specific list of statutory and non-statutory aggravating factors it will seek to prove as the basis for the imposition of the death penalty. Defendant Tommy Edelin will stand trial with five of his alleged co-conspirators. Each of his five co-defendants faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. Defendant Tommy Edelin faces the possible imposition of the death penalty.

II. Government's Motion for Notice

The Government also proposes that if defendant Edelin gives notice of intent to raise a mental health defense, he should submit to examination by an expert or experts of the Government's choosing. Furthermore, the Government requests that the defense provide discovery of any and all materials supplied to the defense experts that form the basis of their opinions, including all medical records and other documents.

III. Analysis

A) Inherent Judicial Power of the Court

The Court will first address whether the Court has the authority to order the mental health examination of the defendant if he were to file notice of his intent to introduce mental health information during the sentencing phase of trial. The Government asserts that although there is no directly applicable statute, once the defendant has given notice that he will raise mental health issues as mitigation factors at the sentencing phase of the trial, the Court has the inherent authority to order the defendant to submit to an examination by the Government's mental health experts.

The Government's proposal for a mental health examination of the defendant, for the purpose of rebutting evidence presented by the defendant at sentencing, closely parallels the statutory provisions for the examination of the defendant when mental health issues will be raised during the guilt phase of trial. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12.2, the defendant is required to give notice to the prosecution of his intent to present mental health evidence as a defense; if a defense of insanity will be used, the court may order, in some cases, the Government to examine the mental health of the defendant. FED. R. CRIM. P. 12.2(b) and 12.2(c) (providing that in "an appropriate case, the court may" order the examination of the defendant where the defendant "intends to introduce expert testimony relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing upon the issue of guilt . . ."). Examinations under 12.2(c), pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4242, are used in cases where federal defendants claim insanity.*fn2 Rule 12.2 (c) only allows the fruits of such an examination to be used against the penal interests of the defendant on "issue[s] respecting mental condition on which the defendant has introduced testimony." FED. R. CRIM. P. 12.2(c).

Discovery requirements are also imposed on capital defendants under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 12.2 and 16(b). Capital defendants raising mental health defenses at the guilt phase of trial are required to provide notice and discovery to the Government. See, FED. R. CRIM. P. 12.2, 16(b). Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(b)(1) establishes reciprocal discovery provisions related to the defendant's guilt phase evidence, those provisions extend to evidence of the mental condition of the defendant.

Although there is no statute that is directly applicable to the court ordered examination of a capital defendant raising a mitigating factor related to his mental health in the sentencing phase of the trial, the procedures ordered by the Court at the conclusion of this Memorandum and Order clearly follow the guidelines established by Rule 12.2 and Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure as they relate to the examination of the mental health of the defendant during the guilt phase of trial.

The function of mental health issues which may be raised during the penalty phase of a capital prosecution is analogous to the function served by the insanity defense presented during the guilt phase of capital and non-capital trials. For that reason, the analytical framework established by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides guidance in determining what is appropriate in terms of notice and reciprocal discovery in the penalty phase of a capital trial under 21 U.S.C. § 848.

In going beyond the statutory language of 21 U.S.C. § 848 and using the framework provided in rules 12.2 and 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Court uses its inherent judicial powers to provide the procedure necessary for a just and efficient resolution of the sentencing phase of the trial.*fn3 This Circuit has previously recognized the inherent judicial powers of trial courts. See Winn v. United States, 270 F.2d 326 (D.C.Cir. 1959), cert. denied, 365 U.S. 848, 81 S.Ct. 810, 5 L.Ed.2d 812 (1961). Other courts have recognized that the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure themselves originated in the discovery procedures established by District Courts in the absence of federal rules of procedure. See United States v. Kloepper, 725 F. Supp. 638 (D.Mass. 1989); United States v. Bender, 331 F. Supp. 1074 (C.D.Cal. 1971).

Although the defendant argues that discovery outside the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure should not be permitted, courts in the District of Columbia have recognized that Rules 12.2 and 16(b) do not necessarily exclude discovery of evidence that falls outside the rules. See United States v. North, 708 F. Supp. 399, 401 (D.D.C. 1988) (ordering defendant to produce pretrial classified documents upon which he intended to rely at trial).

The judicial authority to regulate procedure beyond the scope of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is further enhanced by the Rules themselves. Rule 57(b) provides that where no law or rule is directly applicable, "[a] judge may regulate practice in any manner consistent with federal law, these rules, and local rules of the district." FED. R. CRIM. P. 57(b); see also, United States v. Webster, 162 F.3d 308, 339 (5th Cir. 1998) (finding that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 57(b) can be used to compel a defendant to undergo a psychological examination). The Court finds that the penalty phase of a capital case, where there should be a premium placed upon accuracy and fairness, is an appropriate circumstance where additional reciprocal discovery should be provided.

Several courts have recognized the inherent power of trial courts to require a mental health examination of the type requested here. These courts have held that a defendant's Fifth Amendment rights are not violated by a court ordered mental health examination when the defendant has provided notice of intent to produce mental health expert testimony in support of a mitigating factor at sentencing. See, United States v. Webster, 162 F.3d 308, 340 (5th Cir. 1998); United States v. Beckford, 962 F. Supp. 748 (E.D.Va. 1997); United States v. Hawort, 942 F. Supp. 1406 (D.N.M. 1996); United States v. Vest, 905 F. Supp. 651 (W.D.Mo. 1995); Commonwealth v. Sartin, 561 Pa. 522, 751 A.2d 1140 (2000). If the defendant introduces evidence or testimony at trial related to an examination of the defendant by a mental health expert, the Government may, in some cases, independently examine the mental health of the defendant. This does not violate the defendant's Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. See, Beckford, 962 F. Supp. 748; Haworth, 942 F. Supp. 1406; and Vest, 905 F. Supp. at 652.

The Court finds that it has the authority to order the mental health examination of the defendant if he provides notice of intent to present mental health information in support of a mitigating factor to be raised at sentencing. Furthermore, the Court finds that this is an appropriate case for expanded discovery of certain information related to the information to be used to support mitigating and aggravating factors at sentencing.

B) Government't Examination of the Defendant

In order to determine whether the Government should be allowed to examine the mental health of the defendant, the Court must resolve several issues. Using the framework established by Rules 12.2 and 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, as well as the discretionary grant of judicial power under Rule 57(b) of the Federal Rules, the Court must establish whether notice of intent to raise mental health related mitigation factors at sentencing is required, and ...


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