United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL HARVEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
was charged by indictment with four counts: one count of
unlawful possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(C); one count of unlawful possession with intent to
distribute amphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(E)(i); one count of
unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a
convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1);
and one count of using, carrying, and possessing a firearm
during a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c)(1). He made his initial appearance before the
undersigned on May 16, 2018. At that hearing, the government
sought Defendant's detention pending trial. Counsel for
Defendant, however, asked that the Court order Defendant to
undergo an initial mental competency screening, and that
further proceedings be put off until his competency was
determined. The Court granted Defendant's request. [Dkt.
18, 2018, a psychologist from the District of Columbia
Department of Behavioral Health examined Defendant and
concluded that Defendant was competent to stand trial and was
likely malingering to avoid participating in his court
proceedings in this case. Nevertheless, based on
representations made by Defendant's counsel after
consultation with Defendant and with members of
Defendant's family, on May 21, 2018, the Court found that
there was reasonable cause to believe that a full mental
competency evaluation of Defendant was warranted.
Accordingly, on Defendant's motion, the Court ordered him
remanded to the custody of the Attorney General of the United
States for a period not to exceed 30 days for placement in a
suitable facility for a full competency evaluation pursuant
to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241, 4247(b) and
(c), and Local Criminal Rule 57.17(a)(14). [Dkt. 6].
Defendant's arraignment and detention hearing were again
put off until his competency was determined.
transportation to the facility was plagued by delays. He was
not designated to an appropriate facility-the Metropolitan
Detention Center in Los Angeles, California
(“MDC-L.A.”)- until May 30, 2018. [Dkt. 11 at 3].
He did not leave the District of Columbia until June 12,
2018. Id. at 4. On June 22, 2018, he was still at
the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Id. at 5. He finally arrived at MDC-L.A. on June 28,
2018. Id. at 5. On July 2, 2018, the warden of
MDC-L.A. sought, pursuant to 185 U.S.C. § 4247(b), an
extension of fifteen days to complete the evaluation. [Dkt.
12]. Because neither party objected to the request, the Court
extended the time to complete Defendant's mental
competency evaluation until August 13, 2018. [Dkt. 22]. His
evaluation was completed on August 20, 2018. [Dkt. 24 at 3].
The Court received the forensic evaluation of Defendant on
September 6, 2018.
forensic report found that, although Defendant reported
symptoms of depression, “the symptoms he experiences do
not impair his present ability to understand the nature and
consequences of the court proceedings against him, or his
ability to properly assist counsel in his defense.”
Forensic Evaluation at 24. Monitored phone calls between
Defendant and family and friends placed during his evaluation
showed clear, coherent, and goal-directed verbal behavior,
adequate recall of events and procedures, and fluid speech
and articulation, with no signs of a formal thought disorder
or of psychotic process. Id. at 9, 12. Defendant
“was able to offer relevant and meaningful information
to [his] evaluator regarding both historical and legal
matters.” Id. At 24. The evaluator noted that
Defendant's level of cooperation and effort was suspect.
While he reported experiencing memory problems and frequently
answered legally-focused questions with the response,
“I don't know, ” he was able to provide
adequate responses upon further inquiry. Id. at 12.
Testing designed to determine whether Defendant was
malingering or exaggerating cognitive defects indicated that
he “put forth poor effort and attempted to appear more
impaired than his true level of functioning, ” which
was in the low average range. Id. at 13. The
evaluator concluded that Defendant's “presentation
is suggestive of a deliberate attempt to evade criminal
prosecution” and that any “inability and/or
unwillingness to cooperate in the legal proceedings appear
volitional in nature and not the product of a genuine mental
illness.” Id. at 24.
competency hearing as required by 18 U.S.C. §§
4241(c) and 4247(d) was held on September 11, 2018. At that
hearing, neither Defendant's counsel nor the government
objected to the findings and conclusions of the forensic
evaluation. Accordingly, for the reasons stated on the record
at the hearing and in this Order, it is hereby
that upon consideration of the entire record herein, the
undersigned finds by a preponderance of the evidence that
Defendant has a “sufficient present ability to consult
with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding” and “a rational as well as factual