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United States v. Wasik

United States District Court, District Circuit

November 17, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
KRZYSZTOF WASIK, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH. A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

On July 15, 2013, Defendant, through counsel, orally moved to dismiss this matter, contending that the government failed to file an indictment in accordance with the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C § 3161, et seq. The court heard argument with respect to Defendant’s motion on July 15 and July 16, 2013, and denied the motion in a ruling from the bench. The court now sets forth its findings in greater detail.

BACKGROUND

Defendant Krzysztof Wasik is charged by criminal complaint with threatening and conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive, in violation of 18. U.S.C. § 844(e). Criminal Complaint (Document No. 1). The government alleges that Defendant approached a United States Secret Service Officer outside of the White House, told her that he had a bomb in his truck, and refused to tell her additional information unless he was permitted to speak with the President. Statement of Facts in Support of Complaint (Document No. 1-1). Defendant appeared before the undersigned for an initial appearance on April 10, 2013. Upon motion by Defendant’s counsel, the court ordered a preliminary competency screening of Defendant pursuant to Title 24, Section 531.03, of the District of Columbia Code.

The District of Columbia Department of Mental Health completed the examination on April 11, 2013, and advised the court through its written report that Defendant is incompetent to stand trial. Thereafter, at a status conference conducted on April 12, 2013, counsel for Defendant moved for a further examination, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241, which the undersigned granted. On the record at the status hearing, counsel for the government requested that the time for the evaluation be excluded from computation under the Speedy Trial Act. Defendant made no objection, and the court found that the period of time from April 12 through June 5, 2013 was excluded under the Act.

Defendant was transported to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Medical Center Devens, and arrived there on April 25, 2013. See May 9, 2013 Letter (Document No. 3). The evaluation concluded on June 14, 2013, and the examiners issued the forensic report on June 19, 2013. The examiners advised that Defendant is not competent at this time, and recommended that he be committed for further evaluation and treatment for restoration of competency. Counsel represent that Defendant left the Devens facility on June 28, 2013, and arrived at the District of Columbia jail on July 10, 2013. See Government’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (“Opposition”) (Document No. 4) ¶ 11.

Defendant appeared before the undersigned for a consolidated preliminary hearing and detention hearing on July 15, 2013; however, the court conducted a status hearing instead, after Defendant, through counsel, orally moved to dismiss this matter under the Speedy Trial Act. The court heard argument, and continued the status hearing to July 16, 2013. In doing so, the court, on its own motion, excluded one day under the Speedy Trial Act, finding, for the reasons set forth on the record, that it was in the interest of justice to do so. After hearing additional argument with respect to the motion on July 16, 2013, the court denied Defendant’s motion.

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

In moving to dismiss, Defendant, through counsel, argued that the government failed to return an indictment in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3161(b). Defendant acknowledged that the Speedy Trial Act contemplates exclusion of time for delay due to competency examinations, but submitted that 18 U.S.C. § 4247(b) limits such an exclusion to thirty days, or forty-five if the examiner requests an extension. Defendant’s counsel calculated fifty-five days, from the date he arrived at Federal Medical Center Devens to the date the examiners completed their report, and thus argued that the government violated the Speedy Trial Act in exceeding the excludable time.

Counsel for the government argued that Defendant was found to be incompetent on April 11, 2013, following his preliminary screening, and accordingly, § 3161(h)(4) allowed for the entire period of time from that date onwards to be excluded under the Act. Counsel for the government subsequently argued that even under § 3161(h)(1)(A), the entire period of time from Defendant’s initial appearance, when a preliminary screening was ordered, until present, is excludable.

Defendant, in response, argued that § 3161(h)(1)(A), and not (h)(4), governed his situation because the court had not yet found Defendant to be mentally incompetent, and maintained that the statutory provisions delineating the time frame for competency evaluations limits the time excludable under the Speedy Trial Act.

DISCUSSION

The Speedy Trial Act provides for exclusion of time “in computing the time within which an information or an indictment must be filed, ” for “[a]ny period of delay resulting from the fact that the defendant is mentally incompetent or physically unable to stand trial.” 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(4). As the language suggests, this provision applies when the defendant has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. Here, although the court had ordered examinations to ascertain Defendant’s competence, the court did not make a finding regarding his competence until July 16, 2013. Accordingly, this provision is not applicable to the time frame at issue. See United States v. Bauer, 286 F.Supp.2d 31, 33-34 (D.D.C. 2003) (finding that subsection (h)(4) did not apply where this court had ordered examination of the defendant, but had not determined that the defendant was incompetent).

Rather, applicable here is the Act’s provision for the exclusion of time for “delay resulting from any proceeding, including any examinations, to determine the mental competency or physical capacity of the defendant[.]” § 3161(h)(1)(A). The government argued that, under this provision, the excludable time is the entire period from when “the Court ordered the competency evaluation” until “a hearing regarding the defendant’s competency is held.” Opposition ¶ 6. In support of this contention, counsel for the government relied on United States v. Graves, No. 12-2688, 2013 WL 3112703 (3d Cir. June 21, 2013). In Graves, the court held that “the period of excludable delay under § 3161(h)(1)(A) begins when a party moves for, or the court sua sponte orders, a competency determination . . . . [and] continues at least until a competency hearing is held . . . .” Id. at *3. In arguing that ...


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