United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
Indictment and Initial Competency Hearing
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.
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. Doc. #43. The hearing was continued until
June 30, 2016. Doc. #44.
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,  the Court further continued the hearing
until all such information and records could be obtained,
reviewed and considered.
August 22, 2016, the Court received from Dr. Dwyer an
addendum to his initial psychological report,  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”
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
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.
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.
Second Competency Hearing
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.
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,  ordered that
Defendant undergo a dangerousness assessment.
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, ...