Submitted April 19, 2017
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CMD-3591-15) (Hon. Geoffrey M. Alprin, Motion Judge)
Gregory W. Gardner was on the brief for appellant.
Charming D. Phillips, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth
Trosman, John P. Mannarino, and Anwar Graves, Assistant
United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.
Fisher, Beckwith and Easterly, Associate Judges.
Beckwith, Associate Judge.
Paz Cruz, charged with simple assault,  moved under D.C.
Code § 24-607 (b) (2012 Repl.) to be treated for alcoholism
in lieu of being prosecuted. The trial court denied Mr.
Cruz's motion, apparently relying on a Pretrial Services
Agency (PSA) officer's representation that PSA had
previously recommended "intensive outpatient
treatment" and that Mr. Cruz had "said he [did not]
want it." The record does not indicate what significance
the trial court attached to the officer's representation
or whether the court considered other factors in denying Mr.
Cruz's motion. Concluding that the record is inadequate
to demonstrate that the trial court properly exercised its
discretion, we vacate the court's denial of Mr.
Cruz's motion and remand the case for further
weeks before his scheduled trial date, Mr. Cruz, through
counsel, filed a "motion for treatment in lieu of
criminal prosecution." Mr. Cruz asserted that he would
"voluntarily" submit to "treatment for chronic
alcoholism, " and asked the court to "conduct a
civil hearing" to determine whether he qualified for
alcoholism treatment in lieu of prosecution under D.C. Code
§ 24-607 (b). Mr. Cruz proffered that PSA had
"found that [he] is in need of treatment and [had]
recommended intensive outpatient treatment, " and he
also proffered that "[t]here are adequate and
appropriate programs, such as APRA,  that are able to provide
such [treatment]." The government filed a memorandum in
opposition to Mr. Cruz's motion, arguing that "civil
commitment under § 24-607 should only be used in the
rarest of occurrences" and that Mr. Cruz had failed to
meet "the statutory requirements." The government
specifically noted that Mr. Cruz had not proffered a
"medical diagnosis" in support of his claim that he
is a "chronic alcoholic."
trial court heard argument on the motion at a subsequent
status hearing. In response to the argument raised by the
government in its opposition memorandum, Mr. Cruz's
counsel acknowledged that Mr. Cruz had not received a medical
diagnosis of alcohol dependency. Counsel represented,
however, that Mr. Cruz was "willing to . . . [be]
assessed" and requested that a hearing on Mr. Cruz's
motion "be scheduled for another date to allow [counsel]
to obtain an expert to conduct an analysis." The trial
court questioned why Mr. Cruz had not already sought a
diagnosis: "[I]t is a little difficult to walk in on the
trial date,  although you filed this a few days ago,
and say we oughta have him-we oughta have the client examined
by a medical doctor." Mr. Cruz's counsel responded
that he had waited to seek relief under § 24-607 (b)
because he had initially "tried to explore community
service"-since Mr. Cruz did not have any prior
convictions-but that this proposal had been
"denied." Counsel further explained that he had been
trying to "conserve resources in getting an
expert"-he did not want to expend funds on an expert if
the court was going to deny the motion in any
prosecutor responded by arguing that Mr. Cruz's proposed
treatment option, APRA, "does [not] do civil
commitments." The prosecutor further represented that he
had concerns about whether "Mr. Cruz . . . want[ed] to
be civilly committed to [the] hospital for his chronic
alcoholism." The prosecutor contended that "[t]his
isn't just going to an outpatient treatment and going
back home. This is civil commitment." Mr. Cruz's
counsel responded that D.C. Code § 24-607 (b) did not
require "commitment, per se, " and that
"in th[is] day and age what we're dealing with is
treatment." Counsel acknowledged, however, that
inpatient commitment "obviously . . . is an option if
deemed necessary." The trial court noted that under
§ 24-607 (b), Mr. Cruz "could wind up in a hospital
for" up to 180 days-the maximum sentence for simple
assault-and asked, "[I]s that something he wants?"
Mr. Cruz's counsel replied, "What he wants is
treatment for his alcoholism."
court stated that Mr. Cruz "can have treatment . . .
through the regular criminal process" rather than
through § 24-607 (b). The court asked a PSA officer who
was present in the courtroom "what PSA offers in [a]
situation like this." The officer responded:
The Defendant's assessment that he received previously
indicated intensive outpatient treatment. So, that's the
level, but below residential. And from my understanding[, ]
when the Defendant reported to our office, which he has
continuously done, he's never taken up the opportunity to
participate in treatment. He said he doesn't want it.
hearing from the PSA officer, the trial court denied Mr.
Cruz's motion. The court indicated that the general basis
for the denial was the PSA officer's