United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge to
conduct a hearing, including an evidentiary hearing, if
necessary, and to submit proposed findings and
recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B), 18 U.S.C. 4244 and LcR5.1. A
competency hearing was conducted on November 26, 2018. (Rec.
Harrison (“Harrison”) and others were charged in
a Second and Third Superseding Indictment for violations of
the Federal Controlled Substances Act and the Federal Gun
Control Act, (18-cr-00051). (Rec. doc. 129 and148) According
to the government, Harrison possessed a firearm in relation
to the distribution of heroin. The complaint alleges that the
DEA and FBI intercepted numerous calls about drug
transactions between Harrison and Juan Mosquera-Amari. On May
31, 2018, a detention hearing, which had been reset multiple
times before, it was set before the undersigned as a result
of the duty calendar of the Court. During the hearing, the
government orally moved for a competency
evaluation. The Court granted the request and ordered
that a written motion for competency evaluation be filed and
the Court reset the detention hearing to July 19, 2018. (Rec.
Harrison was transferred to Colorado for a mental competency
assessment and had not returned to the district as of
September 18, 2018. (Rec. doc. 205) As a result, counsel for
Harrison filed a motion to continue the competency hearing
which was granted, and the matter was continued to November
19, 2018. (Rec. doc. 206, 239) The competency hearing took
place as scheduled. During the hearing, the parties
stipulated that if called, Dr. Jeremiah Dwyer, Ph.D. would
testify to the contents of his report. Counsel further
advised that they did not anticipate calling any other
witnesses on the issue of competency.
to Dr. Dwyer's report, Harrison's formal responses to
the competency-specific questions, his conduct during formal
evaluation sessions and his overall functioning at the
facility indicate that he is presently competent to proceed
with the case. Dr. Dwyer noted that he evaluated
Harrison's ability to understand factually and rationally
the legal proceedings and his ability to participate in his
defense were assessed. Dr. Dwyer opined that to the extent
there were any significant limitations in either or both of
these areas that the deficits resulted from a mental
to Dr. Dwyer, Harrison was managing his symptoms effectively
through compliance with his medications. He, however,
presented with low frustration tolerance, rigid thinking,
irritability and mild verbal impulsivity when asked questions
he did not want to answer further, or when educated about
issues where the answer was inconsistent with his
Dwyer noted that the issues mentioned above were the result
of Harrison's personality style, which can make
interactions with him difficult at times but are not the
result of a mental health impairment nor do they render him
incompetent to proceed. His current functioning, according to
Dr. Dwyer, was satisfactory for the case.
Dwyer further concluded that there was no objective evidence
that Mr. Harrison suffers from signs or symptoms of a major
mental disorder, such as an affective disorder (e.g., Bipolar
Disorder), psychotic disorder (e.g. Schizophrenia), or an
organic disorder that would 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. As a result, Dr. Dwyer recommended
that Harrison continue to take his mental health medications
as prescribed to maintain his current level of functioning.
Otherwise, it was Dr. Dwyer's opinion that Harrison is
presently competent to proceed with his case.
Standard of Review
conviction of an accused while he is mentally incompetent is
a violation of due process. Drope v. Missouri, 420
U.S. 162, 95 S.Ct. 896, 43 L.Ed.2d 103 (1975); Pate v.
Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 86 S.Ct. 836, 15 L.Ed.2d 815
(1966). An accused must have both “sufficient present
ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree
of rational understanding, ” and “a rational as
well as factual understanding of the proceedings against
him.” Washington v. Johnson,90 F.3d 950 (E.D.
Tex. Mar. 26, 2009) quoting Dusky v. United States,
362 U.S. 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 789, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960) (per
curiam). As a corollary to this substantive ...