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United States v. Olivares

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

March 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LUIS OLIVARES, Defendant.

ORDER DETERMINING COMPETENCY OF DEFENDANT

JEFFREY L. VIKEN, Chief District Judge.

Procedural History

On January 23, 2012, upon motion of both parties, the court ordered that a psychiatric or psychological examination of defendant Luis Olivares be conducted pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(b) and 4247(b) and a report be filed with the court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(b) and the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 4247(c). (Docket 624). On April 11, 2012, the court received Mr. Olivares' forensic evaluation from the Englewood Federal Detention Center in Englewood, Colorado. (Docket 699). Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(a) and (c) and § 4247(d), the court held a competency hearing on April 20, 2012. (Docket 701). During the hearing, the parties stipulated to Mr. Olivares' present mental incompetence and his need for restoration treatment. (Docket 702). On April 20, 2012, the court committed Mr. Olivares to undergo a period of hospitalization and treatment not to exceed four months to determine whether there was a substantial probability his competency to stand trial could be restored pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). (Docket 704).

On May 31, 2012, Mr. Olivares was admitted to the Federal Medical Correctional Facility at Butner, North Carolina. On October 11, 2012, Mr. Olivares' certificate of restoration of competency to stand trial with a corresponding report was issued by the medical staff of FMC Butner. (Docket 863). Mr. Olivares filed objections to the report. (Docket 878). On November 9, 2012, the court held a status conference. (Docket 882). During the hearing, the parties stipulated to issues regarding the competency report and stipulated to the need for further mental evaluation at a different facility.

On December 14, 2012, the court entered an order of commitment and Mr. Olivares was admitted to the Federal Medical Correctional Facility at Devens, Massachusetts. (Docket 892). On July 25, 2013, the court received a report issued by the medical staff at FMC Devens concluding Mr. Olivares was not suffering from a major mental illness which would preclude him from understanding the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or in assisting properly with his defense. (Docket 926).

On September 20, 2013, Mr. Olivares moved for a local psychiatric or psychological examination pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241. (Docket 940). The court granted the motion on September 30, 2013, and ordered that a psychiatric or psychological examination of Mr. Olivares be conducted by Dr. Stephen P. Manlove. (Docket 945). On February 2, 2014, the court received a report issued by Dr. Manlove concluding Mr. Olivares was not suffering from a mental impairment, had a rational ability to consult with counsel, and had a factual and rational understanding of the proceedings. (Docket 990).

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(a) and (c) and § 4247(d), the court held a competency hearing on February 27, 2014, and March 18, 2014. Mr. Olivares appeared in person and through his counsel, John Rusch. The government appeared in person by Assistant United States Attorney Ted McBride and telephonically by Assistant United States Attorney John Haak. The following individuals testified either in person or by video at the competency hearing: Dr. Shawn Channel, Ph.D., Psychologist; Dr. David Morrow, Ph.D., Forensic Psychologist; Dr. Stephen P. Manlove, M.D., DFAPA, Psychiatrist; Gary Colbath, Assistant Federal Public Defender; Captain Brook Haga, Pennington County Jail; and Luis Olivares.

Discussion

A defendant is incompetent to stand trial if it is shown "by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect 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." 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). In assessing a defendant's competency, the court may consider various factors, including expert medical opinions and its own observations of the defendant during the proceedings. United States v. Denton, 434 F.3d 1104, 1112 (8th Cir. 2006). Medical opinions on the mental competency of a defendant are generally persuasive evidence. United States v. Mueller, 661 F.3d 338, 352-53 (8th Cir. 2011). "[I]n crediting an expert's opinion, it is not the opinion itself that is important, but the rationale underlying it." United States v. Ghane, 593 F.3d 775, 781 (8th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted).

"Not every manifestation of mental illness demonstrates incompetence." Vogt v. United States, 88 F.3d 587, 591 (8th Cir. 2006). "That a defendant suffers from a mental deficiency or demonstrates bizarre, volatile, and irrational behavior' does not necessarily make him incompetent to stand trial." Ghane, 593 F.3d at 779 (quoting Vogt, 88 F.3d at 591). "[I]t is incumbent on the district court to base its competency determination on the defendant's current state of mind to the extent it is ascertainable from the information available." Ghane, 593 F.3d at 779-80; see also United States v. Jimenez-Villasenor, 270 F.3d 554, 559 (8th Cir. 2001) ("In determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial, the test is whether the defendant had a sufficient present ability to consult his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding-and whether the defendant ha[d] a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.'") (quoting Vogt, 88 F.3d at 591).

"There are two elements to a competency finding: (1) whether the defendant has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him, ' and (2) whether the defendant is able to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.'" Ghane, 593 F.3d at 780 (quoting United States v. Denton, 434 F.3d 1104, 1112 (8th Cir. 2006))

A. Is Mr. Olivares able to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him?

First, the court must determine if Mr. Olivares suffers from a "mental disease or defect" that prevents him from understanding the nature and consequences of the proceedings. This requires "a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings." Ghane, 593 F.3d at 780.

Neither Dr. Channel nor Dr. Manlove observed Mr. Olivares showing any symptoms consistent with a mental illness. Dr. Channel, a forensic psychologist, made the following ...


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