VIRGINIA L. GRADY, Federal Public Defender, Interim
Scott T. Varholak Assistant Federal Public Defender Denver, CO Attorney for Defendant.
DEFENDANT'S RENEWED MOTION FOR COMPETENCY EVALUATION
PHILIP A. BRIMMER, District Judge.
The defense hereby moves this Court for an Order authorizing a psychiatric or psychological examination of the defendant by a certified psychiatrist or psychologist for the purpose of determining whether he suffers from a mental disease or defect, and to thereafter set a hearing to determine his competency to proceed, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a), (b) and (c), and 18 U.S.C. § 4247(b) and (c). In the alternative, the defense asks for a sixty day continuance to allow the defense to hire an expert to evaluate Mr. Maxton for competency. In support of this motion, the defense states as follows:
I. Procedural History
On November 6, 2013, a Superseding Indictment was returned charging Mr. Maxton with two counts of threatening a law enforcement officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B) (Counts II and IV), and two counts of threatening the immediate family of a law enforcement officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(A) (counts I and III). Counts I and II stem from a November 9, 2012 letter allegedly mailed by Mr. Maxton. Counts III and IV stem from a November 15, 2012 letter allegedly mailed by Mr. Maxton.
On December 10, 2013, the defense filed a Motion for Competency Evaluation. The government did not oppose that motion. On December 18, 2013, the Court denied that motion, ruling that it lacked reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Maxton was suffering from a mental disease or defect.
A. Mr. Maxton's mental health
As detailed previously, Mr. Maxton has a long history of mental health issues. The defense is seeking to obtain these records from the Bureau of Prisons, but given the relatively early stages of the case, has not yet been able to obtain these. Nonetheless, the discovery reveals that Mr. Maxton has previous diagnoses (from the mid-1990s) that include Paranoid Personality Disorder.
The letters allegedly written in this case are often disjointed and incoherent. Many of these letters talk about a conspiracy on the part of the government to harm Mr. Maxton in various ways. Again, this is consistent with the previously diagnosed Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Beginning a long time ago and continuing through to the present, Mr. Maxton has been hearing voices in his head and responding to such voices. Moreover, counsel's own interactions with Mr. Maxton give counsel reason to believe that Mr. Maxton 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. This representation is made as an officer of the Court.
B. 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a) and the low threshold for ordering a competency evaluation
18 U.S.C. § 4241(a) provides that the court shall grant a motion for competency "if 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." 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a). This is a different standard than that which the Court must find before declaring a defendant incompetent to proceed. Compare 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a) (requiring only reasonable cause to believe the defendant may be suffering from mental disease or defect rendering him incompetent) with 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d) (requiring by a preponderance of the evidence a finding that the defendant is suffering from such a mental disease or defect). As the Fourth Circuit has held, the standard for ordering an ...