ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 11-5898, DIVISION "N" HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Parish ofJefferson TERRY M. BOUDREAUX ANNE M. WALLIS JODY J. FORTUNATO STEPHEN R. SANDERS JENNIFER Z. ROSENBACH ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE
BERTHA M. HILLMAN ATTORNEY AT LAW Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT
Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg PAUL D. CONNICK, JR.
ROBERT A. CHAISSON JUDGE
In this appeal, defendant, Carlos Romious, challenges the validity of his guilty pleas to two counts of battery of a police officer. He specifically asserts that the trial court erred in accepting his pleas without first determining if he was competent to proceed at the time he entered the pleas. For the reasons that follow, we find no merit to this argument and accordingly affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.
On December 2, 2011, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant with two counts of battery of a police officer while being detained in jail, in violation of LSA-R.S. 14:34.2. At the February 13, 2012 arraignment, defendant pled not guilty.
On March 11, 2013, defendant filed a motion to appoint a sanity commission and to order medical observation and tests. On June 19, 2013, after considering the testimony of Dr. Rafael Salcedo, a forensic psychologist, and the report of the sanity commission, the trial court found defendant competent to proceed.
On June 21, 2013, defense counsel filed a motion for a mental examination requesting that defendant be evaluated to determine his sanity at the time of the offense. On the same date, defendant entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity pursuant to LSA-R.S. 14:14 and LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 552(3). Thereafter, on September 25, 2013, the parties appeared in court for a competency hearing and a not guilty by reason of insanity hearing. At that time, the trial judge made clear that a competency hearing was previously held in June, at the conclusion of which defendant was found competent to proceed. With regard to defendant's not guilty by reason of insanity plea, the trial court found that a hearing was not needed because the issue of sanity at the time of the offense was an issue for trial.
On December 4, 2013, defendant withdrew his former pleas of not guilty, and after being advised of his rights, pled guilty as charged to two counts of battery of a police officer. The trial court thereafter sentenced defendant, on each count, to one year imprisonment in the Department of Corrections without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, to run consecutively. Defendant now appeals.
VALIDITY OF GUILTY PLEAS
In his sole assigned error, defendant contends that the trial court erred in accepting his guilty pleas without determining if he was competent to proceed at the time he pled guilty.
In the present case, a competency hearing was conducted on June 19, 2013. During the competency hearing, Dr. Rafael Salcedo, an expert in forensic psychology and one of the members of the sanity commission, testified that he and Dr. Richard Richoux, a forensic psychiatrist, examined defendant on April 24, 2013, to determine his mental condition and his ability to assist counsel and understand the proceedings. At the hearing, Dr. Salcedo testified that defendant is a fairly intelligent individual who practiced law in the past and developed a late onset of bipolar disorder. Further, when defendant is not properly medicated, he becomes "quite irrational in his behavior." Defendant "has been medication-compliant in the jail ...