United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
A. INGRAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jamie Sweeton is charged with conspiracy to distribute
oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and 846, and aiding and abetting in the burglary of a
pharmacy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and
2118(b), both Class C felonies. He has pled not guilty (D.E.
53), and his trial is currently scheduled for August 22,
2017. D.E. 140.
April 4, 2017, Defendant, through counsel, filed a motion for
a competency evaluation. D.E. 124. At the motion hearing on
April 7, 2017, the Court granted the motion, ordered an
evaluation in a custodial setting, and Defendant was remanded
to the custody of the United States Marshal. D.E. 126; 127.
On April 11, 2017, the Court, upon the required findings,
ordered the psychiatric or psychological examination pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 4247(b) to be performed at the Federal
Medical Center-Lexington (“FMC-Lexington”) in
Lexington, Kentucky. D.E. 129. Defendant was evaluated at
FMC-Lexington from April 17, 2017, through June 1, 2017. D.E.
153 at 2. All parties had access to the Psychiatric Report
(“the Report”) issued by Dr. Judith Campbell, Ph.
D., following this evaluation, in which she found Defendant
competent to stand trial. Id. at 9.
6, 2017, the Court conducted a competency hearing in this
matter, per 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241 and 4247(d), in
London, Kentucky. D.E. 158. During that hearing, the parties
stipulated to the admissibility of the Report, as well as to
the Report's findings. The parties also waived
introduction of other proof and argument in opposition, and
waived the right to examine or cross-examine the evaluator.
4241 codifies the competency principles of Dusky v.
United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960). To be competent
under this standard, a defendant must have “sufficient
present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable
degree of rational understanding” and “a rational
as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against
him.” Dusky, 362 U.S. at 402; see
also 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a) (phrasing the test as
whether a defendant is “unable to understand the nature
and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist
properly in his defense”). 18 U.S.C. § 4247(d)
governs the competency hearing, and assures certain
trial-type rights. These include the right to confront and
cross-examine witnesses, and the right to participate in the
hearing. See id.; see also 18 U.S.C. §
4241(c) (referring to the hearing procedures outlined in
per section 4241(d), a defendant is not competent if,
“after the hearing, the court finds by a preponderance
of the evidence that the defendant” meets the
incompetency definition of section 4241(a). This framework
does not dictate which party bears the burden, which has led
to disagreements among the Circuits. See United States v.
Carter, No. 1:12-CR-29, 2013 WL 6668715, at *11 (E.D.
Tenn. Dec. 18, 2013) (compiling cases). Here, the proof
is not in any way disputed, and the Court need not resolve
the burden allocation question. See Medina v.
California, 505 U.S. 427, 449 (1992) (indicating that
argument over burden, in competency context, only matters in
“narrow class” of cases where the proof is
stipulated as to both the admissibility and the substance of
the Report. Accordingly, the only proof concerning
Defendant's competency is the expert analysis of Dr.
Campbell. The Report reflects personal observation, a review
of Defendant's available medical history and status,
sufficient psychological testing, and a thorough assessment
of Defendant's abilities in light of the applicable
competency standards. Dr. Campbell analyzed Defendant's
history, course of evaluation, and testing performance. She
directly observed Defendant via interviews and subjected him
to a battery of psychological testing. Dr. Campbell spoke
with the prosecutor and defense counsel. She also secured and
reviewed some legal documents and medical records, including
mental health records from Centerstone Community Mental
Health Care Center.
Campbell's report is a thorough and comprehensive
assessment of Defendant's history, mental and psychiatric
condition, and circumstances. Notably:
(1) The Report indicates that in spite of previous reports of
anxiety, Defendant was not exhibiting any signs or symptoms
of acute psychological distress at the time of the
evaluation. D.E. 153 at 4.
(2) Defendant's mental condition remained stable over the
course of the evaluation, and he did not display aggressive
or bizarre behavior or any behavioral management problems
suggestive of mental illness. Id.
(3) Defendant's performance on the Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (“WAIS-IV”)
indicates that he has some mild cognitive limitations.
Id. at 5. Overall, the results of the psychological
testing and clinical interviews with Defendant during the
evaluation “suggest some cognitive limitations, but do
not support a finding of severe mental illness or mental
defect sufficient to preclude his ability to proceed
competently at this time.” Id. at 6.
(4) Defendant's mental status examinations
“revealed an oriented, logical, and rational individual
who was cooperative, polite, and well-mannered during
interviews and testing sessions.” Id.
(5) Although his vocabulary is limited, Defendant was able to
discuss the case in “a rational and reality-based
manner.” Id. Additionally, he did not display
any symptoms of a formal thought disorder. Id.
(6) Defendant did appear to be suffering symptoms commonly
associated with depression. Id. at 7. He showed
“no signs of severely depressed mood over the course of
the evaluation as he did not evidence feelings of pervasive
worthlessness, or diminished appetite characteristic of