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U.S. v. WESTON

May 1, 2003

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RUSSELL EUGENE WESTON, JR., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is the government's motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (d)(2) (2000) to extend defendant's hospitalization for an additional period of one year in order to continue his medical treatment. The Court is charged with determining, in the first instance, whether the government has met its burden of proving that a substantial likelihood exists that Mr. Weston will regain competency within the foreseeable future. If the Court determines that the government has indeed offered sufficient proof, it must address the question whether the requested additional period of one year is reasonable.

In support of its motion, and relying upon 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (d)(2), the government contends that "there is a substantial probability that . . . [defendant] will attain the capacity to permit the trial to proceed" within the proposed period of time. Gov't. Mot. at 1. Mr. Weston opposes the government's request, arguing primarily that there is no evidentiary basis on which to grant the motion and no support in legislative or case law for the proposition that one year is a reasonable period of time as a matter of "predictive judgment." Def.'s Opp'n at 3-4.

Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, as well as oral arguments and the relevant statutory and case law governing the issues, it is by the Court hereby

ORDERED that the government's motion is GRANTED and that Mr. Weston's hospitalization and treatment are continued for an additional period of one year from November 19, 2002, the date of the filing of the pending motion, until November 19, 2003; and it is further

ORDERED that a supplemental evidentiary hearing is scheduled for June 17, 2003, at 10:00 a.m., in Courtroom #1 of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to consider further evidence relating to defendant's medication since November 19, 2002, his response to further medication and any current opinions on the issue of his attainment of competency or lack thereof and his prognosis for attainment of competency to participate in future legal proceedings.

BACKGROUND

Procedural History

On October 9, 1998, defendant Russell Eugene Weston, Jr. was charged in a six-count indictment with murdering two United States Capitol Police Officers and attempting to murder a third officer on July 24, 1998.

On April 22, 1999, the Court ruled that Mr. Weston was incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed to the custody of the Attorney General "for treatment in a suitable facility," pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (d). The Court's order further provided that antipsychotic medication could not be administered to Mr. Weston without the prior approval of the Court.

On May 5, 1999, Mr. Weston was admitted to the Health Services Division of the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, North Carolina ("Butner"). Following his admission to Butner, he refused to voluntarily take the antipsychotic medication prescribed by Dr. Sally Johnson of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), a pychiatrist in the United States Public Health Service tasked with Mr. Weston's case.

On March 6, 2001, following (1) several administrative and judicial hearings, (2) an interlocutory appeal of this Court's first ruling authorizing the defendant's involuntary treatment with antipsychotic medication, (3) a multi-day evidentiary hearing following a remand for further factfinding, and (4) the preparation and submission of a report from a court-appointed expert this Court authorized the BOP to involuntarily treat the defendant with antipsychotic medication. 134 F. Supp.2d 115, 116 (D.D.C. 2001). This decision was ultimately affirmed by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 255 F.3d 873, 877 (D.C. Cir. 2001). Thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for a writ of certiorari to review the Circuit Court's ruling. Accordingly, the BOP began treating the defendant with antipsychotic medication on January 30, 2002.

Status reports were submitted each month thereafter and, on or about June 6, 2002, the government requested a 120-day extension under 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (d) for the purpose of continuing Mr. Weston's course of treatment with antipsychotic medication. Mr. Weston objected to continued commitment and requested an evidentiary hearing.

On August 1, 2002, the Court held such a hearing and heard uncontroverted testimony from Dr. Johnson. The status reports submitted by the BOP to the time of the hearing, along with various institutional documents relating to Mr. Weston, were admitted into the evidentiary record.

On August 2, 2002, the Court issued an order granting the government's request to extend Mr. Weston's treatment for an additional 120-day period under 18 U.S.C. ยง 4241 (d) (with the additional period commencing on August 2, 2002). See United States v. Weston, 211 F. Supp.2d 182 (D.D.C. 2002). In ...


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