United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.
Now before the Court is the government's motion for a determination of competency to stand trial (Doc. 48) (filed under seal). Defendant contests the motion (Doc. 50). At the hearing held on July 18, 2014, the Court orally granted the government's request, but deferred ruling as to certain specifics it herein designates.
Based on the reasons stated in the motion and the applicable law, the Court granted the government's request. The Court finds that, "there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be 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." See 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a).
In light of defendant's pro se status, the Court emphasizes the following:
The Constitution does not permit the trial of an individual lacking "mental competency." Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960), defines the mental competency standard as inclusive of both (1) "whether" the defendant has "a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him" and (2) whether the defendant "has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding." Id. at 402 (internal quotations omitted). In this case, defendant has "voluntarily and intelligently" elected to proceed without counsel thus far, see Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 807 (1975), and has only accepted the assistance of standby counsel.
However, as the Court has reiterated on numerous occasions throughout the course of these proceedings, "the right of self-representation is not absolute." Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 171 (2008). And the Supreme Court has accordingly clarified that,
[T]he Constitution permits judges to take realistic account of the particular defendant's mental capacities by asking whether a defendant who seeks to conduct his own defense at trial is mentally competent to do so. That is to say, the Constitution permits States to insist upon representation by counsel for those competent enough to stand trial under Dusky but who still suffer from severe mental illness to the point where they are not competent to conduct trial proceedings by themselves.
See Edwards, 554 U.S. at 177-78; see also United States v. Berry, 565 F.3d 385, 392 (7th Cir. 2009) (noting the application of Edwards to federal proceedings).
On the basis of all of the above, the Court ORDERS a psychiatric/psychological examination pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241 and 4247, to determine defendant's competency to stand trial and specifically in this instance, defendant's ability to conduct trial proceedings by himself.
The Court designates Dr. Daniel J. Cuneo, 2217 West Main Street, Belleville, IL 62226 to conduct the examination. The cost of the examination shall be paid by the government. Dr. Cuneo shall travel to defendant's current place of custody, Alton Law Enforcement Center, 1700 East Broadway, Alton, IL 62002, to conduct the evaluation. The evaluation shall not exceed 30 days.
Further, the pre-trial services probation officer assigned to defendant's case is DIRECTED to contact the probation office for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and request copies of the defendant's prior psychiatric/psychological evaluation report and his prior pre-sentence investigation report, filed in 09-cr-351-ERW (E.D. MO.), for purposes of assisting Dr. Cuneo's present evaluation.
The probation officer is DIRECTED to send these documents to Stephen Clark, the government's representative, for inclusion with the other information that will be sent to Dr. Cuneo.
Dr. Cuneo shall prepare a report which details ...