Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Houston

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

June 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BENNIE LEE HOUSTON

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On June 8, 2017, the Court held a hearing on the issue of Defendant Bennie Lee Houston's competency. At the hearing, this Court found Defendant incompetent to stand trial and then, on the Government's motion and without objection by Defendant, ordered a dangerousness assessment of Defendant. This order memorializes these rulings.

         I Procedural History

         A. Indictment and Initial Competency Hearing

         On July 14, 2015, Defendant was charged in a two-count indictment with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a firearm without a serial number. Doc. #1. On November 4, 2015, this Court, on Defendant's motion, issued an order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241, directing a psychological evaluation of Defendant to determine whether he “is suffering from a mental disease or defect, to include mental retardation, rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.” Doc. #32 at 4. On February 5, 2016, this Court received a psychiatric report prepared by Jeremiah Dwyer, Ph.D., which concluded that Defendant was competent to stand trial. Doc. #38 at 24.

         On May 20, 2016, the matter was called for hearing but, on the Government's oral motion, continued by the Court until the Government could secure Dr. Dwyer's attendance at the hearing.[1] Doc. #43. The hearing was continued until June 30, 2016. Doc. #44.

         On June 30, 2016, the matter was again called for hearing. However, after the parties advised the Court of their recent receipt of additional medical records of Defendant, and the existence of other information and records not yet obtained which may impact Dr. Dwyer's opinions regarding Defendant's competency, [2] the Court further continued the hearing until all such information and records could be obtained, reviewed and considered.

         On August 22, 2016, the Court received from Dr. Dwyer an addendum to his initial psychological report, [3] which he produced after “review[ing] additional information provided by Mr. Houston's family and counsel, including a significant amount of past treatment records ….” Doc. #46 at 1. In the addendum, Dr. Dwyer “revised [his] diagnostic opinion based on the additional information provided” to conclude:

The available records and Mr. Houston's recent decompensation both indicate Mr. Houston is not presently competent to proceed. It is not possible to further assess his present knowledge, but it is apparent he is not presently able to assist in his defense as a result of significant mental health symptoms.
Given these concerns, it is recommended Mr. Houston be committed to a federal medical center for a period of restoration to competency pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 4241(d).
Id.

         On September 8, 2016, the Court held a hearing, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4247(d) and 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a), on the issue of Defendant's competency to stand trial. At the hearing, the parties stipulated to the admission and substance of Dr. Dwyer's report and its addendum. Based upon these stipulations, the Court accepted into evidence Dr. Dwyer's report and its addendum, and also heard testimony from Dr. Dwyer.

         After consideration of the evidence presented, the Court found by a preponderance of the evidence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d), that Defendant suffered from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense. Doc. #50. Accordingly, the Court ordered that Defendant be committed to the custody of the Attorney General, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d), for hospitalization and treatment at a suitable facility for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed four months, as necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future he will obtain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward. Id.

         B. Second Competency Hearing

         On May 2, 2017, a second psychiatric report was submitted to the Court. Doc. #52. In the report, Gillespie Wadsworth, Psy.D, concludes that Defendant “is not able to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him and to assist in his defense.” Doc. #52 at 11. The same day, the Court set a hearing on the issue of competency for June 8, 2017. Doc. #54. On May 30, 2017, the Government filed a motion seeking a dangerousness assessment of Defendant. Doc. #59.

         On June 8, 2017, this Court convened a competency hearing regarding Defendant's current mental state. Doc. #62. At the hearing, the Government made an oral motion for a dangerousness assessment of Defendant, to which Defendant's counsel offered no objection. Also at the hearing, the Court admitted without objection Dr. Wadsworth's report and, based on its conclusion, found Defendant incompetent to stand trial. Additionally, the Court, after the Government conceded there was no compelling government interest in restoring Defendant to competency and proceeding to trial and, accordingly, did not intend to introduce any evidence in that regard, [4] ordered that Defendant undergo a dangerousness assessment.

         II Relevant Authority

         Where, as here, a defendant has been hospitalized for the purpose of restoring competency, the action becomes subject to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d), which provides, in relevant part, that “[i]f … at the end of the time period specified, it is determined that the defendant's mental condition has not so improved as to permit the proceedings to go forward, the defendant is subject to the provisions of sections 4246 and 4248.” There is no dispute in this case that the period of commitment has ended and that the undisputed evidence (the May 2, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.