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01/30/75 United States of America v. Reginald E. David

January 30, 1975





Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C. Criminal 1396-72).


Bazelon, Chief Judge, and Wright, Circuit Judge and Merhige,* United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.


Opinion for the Court filed by Chief Judge BAZELON.

BAZELON, Chief Judge:

On August 16, 1972, Reginald E. David was convicted in a non-jury trial of assault with intent to commit rape while armed, *fn1 taking indecent liberties with a minor, *fn2 and sodomy. *fn3 Testimony at trial indicated that on October 28, 1971 the 13 year old prosecutrix was walking with two young girl friends in the parking lot of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. A man approached them in a green car. The man -- identified at trial by all three girls as the appellant -- left his car and began chasing them. While two of the girls eluded him, he caught up with the prosecutrix, ripped her slacks off, attempted to have intercourse with her, and compelled her to commit various sodomous acts at knife point. He then released her.

In the meantime, the two other girls met a policeman and alerted him to the danger confronting their friend. He went immediately to the parking lot where he and a fellow officer found David crouching in a bush near the lot with an open knife in his hand. They arrested David after both girls identified him as the man in the green car. I

Treatment of the central issues raised on appeal requires a detailed description of the several reports and proceedings relating to David's mental condition both at the time of the offense and at the time of trial.

Four days after the instant offense, a United States Magistrate ordered, on request of defense counsel, that David be examined by the Legal Psychiatric Service to determine whether he was "competent for trial and whether [he] was suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time of the alleged offenses and whether those offenses, if committed by [him], were a product of such mental disease or defect."

Pursuant to this order, David was examined in his cell block by Dr. Leonard C. Maguigad, a staff psychiatrist with the Legal Psychiatric Service. Maguigad, in his report to the Magistrate dated December 10, 1971, found that David was incompetent to stand trial. He also reported that David was "suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the alleged offense, but I have no opinion at this time as to productivity." He "highly recommend[ed] that [David] receive hospital treatment at this time."

Maguigad's letter to the Magistrate also disclosed that David had a prior psychiatric history. David revealed to Maguigad that, while employed as a police officer in the summer of 1970, "he had a 'nervous breakdown' which led to the termination of his services from the police force." Maguigad reported that the records he obtained from the D.C. Police and Fireman's Clinic "confirm that [David] had psychotic symptomatologies and had been diagnosed Schizophrenia Paranoid Type in [sic] August 3, 1970. He had been hospitalized at Washington Hospital Center for his psychosis and had been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital during the summer months of 1970."

On February 9, 1972, David was arraigned before the District Court in this case. At that time, the District Court, again on defendant's motion, ordered that he be committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital for an examination both as to his competency to stand trial and as to his mental condition at the time of the offenses for which he was charged. *fn4 Pursuant to that order, David was examined by Dr. Robert H. Robertson, a staff psychiatrist at St. Elizabeths who consulted with Dr. Robert O. Randle, a staff psychologist at the hospital. On the basis of their examination, Dr. Elizabeth Strawinsky, Acting Associate Director for Forensic Programs at St. Elizabeths, reported in a letter to the court that David had been "diagnosed No mental disorder and is competent for trial by virtue of having a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings pending against him and being able to consult with counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding." Strawinsky further reported that "on or about October 28, 1971, the date of the alleged offenses, [David] was not suffering from a mental disease or defect which substantially impaired his behavior controls, and the alleged offenses, if committed by him, were not the product of an abnormal mental condition." Thus, at the time of the trial, the reports of Dr. Maguigad and St. Elizabeths conflicted as to both the questions of competency to stand trial and mental condition at the time of the offense.

At the trial's outset, David's counsel presented the court with what he perceived to be a "dilemma." After noting the two conflicting reports on David's competency, counsel stated that "my position at this point is to alert the Court to the fact that I have misgivings about my client's competency which I think warrants an inquiry of some sort at this point." While counsel was not specific as to the basis for his misgivings, he did indicate that "it has to do with Mr. David's apparent lack of appreciation of what the Government's evidence against him is and the corresponding inability to consider the wisdom of taking a course other than standing trial on the merits." Counsel made clear that while he was ...

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