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United States v. McCloud

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

August 10, 2017

WILLIE McCLOUD, Defendant.


          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation filed by United States Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram. [R. 67.] The Report and Recommendation addresses the issue of whether Defendant Willie McCloud is competent to proceed to trial. Magistrate Judge Ingram recommended this Court find the Defendant competent to face further proceedings, including trial. [See id.] This Court agrees with his conclusion, adopts his Recommended Disposition, and DENIES Defendant's objections to the Recommended Disposition.



         In a superseding indictment returned July 28, 2016, McCloud was charged with one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in bodily injury in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.

         After several continuances of his trial date, on December 2, 2016, McCloud made a motion for psychological evaluation and mental competency evaluation. [R. 44.] The same day, McCloud gave notice to the Government that he may assert an insanity defense at trial. [R. 45.] The Magistrate Judge conducted a telephonic conference and granted the Defendant's motion for mental competency hearing and exam and also granted an oral motion made by the United States for a sanity examination. [R. 47; 51.] The Defendant was transported to the Federal Medical Center in Lexington for his psychological examination. [R. 53.] FMC Lexington requested additional time to conduct the relevant assessments [R. 55] and a psychiatry report was filed in the record on April 17, 2017. [R. 58.]

         The Competency Report evaluated McCloud on several different levels and was issued by Dr. Judith Campbell, Forensic Psychologist. [R. 58.] In assembling this report, McCloud was clinically interviewed by Dr. Campbell, examined by medical staff, observed regularly by correctional staff and other staff members, administered two psychological tests, given a personal history questionnaire and given the opportunity to review all the information collected. [R. 68 at 2.] Finally, Dr. Campbell also spoke to AUSA Jason Parson and Defense counsel Brandon Storm concerning McCloud. [Id.]

         McCloud was evaluated using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) to assess his “overall cognitive functioning.” [R. 58 at 4.] McCloud's intellectual abilities scored in the “Average to High Average range.” [Id.] McCloud was also evaluated using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Second Edition, (MMPI-2). [R. 58 at 5.] McCloud's “performance on the MMPI-2 is suggestive of a severe personality disorder and indicates he has a tendency to abuse illicit substances.” [R. 58 at 5.] McCloud also provided written responses to a “series of open-ended, competency related and personal history questions and demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the court process, his criminal charges, and possible consequences of prosecution and conviction.” [R. 58 at 5.] The competency report concluded that McCloud did not have a “severe mental illness or mental defect . . . [that would] preclude his ability to proceed competently” and “was able to demonstrate a basic rational and factual understanding of the charges against him, an ability to recall the events leading up to the alleged offense behaviors, and a willingness to assist his lawyer in preparing his defense.” [Id.] Due to McCloud's “history of chronic substance abuse, ” Dr. Campbell recommended the Defendant “be further evaluated regarding the presence of a mood or thought disturbance once his current case is adjudicated.” [R. 58 at 9.] As a result of his evaluation, McCloud “was prescribed psychiatric medication[, ] specifically Buspar, . . . and he reported the medication caused a remittance of his symptoms of irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.” [R. 58 at 10.] Finally, Dr. Campbell expressed her expert opinion that “McCloud is currently competent to stand trial.” [R. 58 at 11.]

         Dr. Campbell also evaluated McCloud to determine whether he was insane at the time the offense was committed. [R. 58 at 14.] Based on “[r]eports form collateral sources” and interviews with McCloud, Dr. Campbell gave her expert opinion that “at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the alleged offenses, Mr. McCloud was not suffering from a mental disease or defect such that he was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his actions.” [R. 58 at 15.]

         The Magistrate Judge held a competency hearing on May 2, 2017 and Dr. Campbell testified via video conference. [R. 66; audio recording available in clerk's office in London, Kentucky.] At the hearing, Dr. Judith Campbell said doctoral students conducted some of the assessments performed on McCloud and that she personally went back and checked all the scores herself. [R. 66.] She indicated that any disparity in test scores was likely attributable to substance abuse. [Id.] Further, McCloud's central nervous system was likely improving from his consistent years of substance abuse and it would be difficult to determine at this juncture whether he has a personality disorder or not due to his history of substance abuse. [Id.] Dr.Campbell admitted that “although the combination of a severe personality disorder and a mood or thought disturbance might impair one's ability to stand trial, no issue arises in this case because Defendant did not appear to be suffering from a mood or thought disturbance.” [R. 67 at 7.]

         Judge Ingram entered a Recommended Disposition [R. 67] and the Defendant timely objected [R. 68]. His trial has been continued generally pending the resolution of McCloud's competency to stand trial. [R. 47.]


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2), a petitioner has fourteen days after service to register any objections to the R&R or else waive his rights to appeal. In order to receive de novo review by this Court, any objection to the recommended disposition must be specific. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). A specific objection “explain[s] and cite[s] specific portions of the report which [counsel] deem[s] problematic.” Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d. 981, 994 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Smith v. Chater, 121 F.3d 709, 1997 WL 415309, at *2 (6th Cir. 1997).). A general objection that fails to identify specific factual or legal issues from the Recommendation, however, is not permitted, since it duplicates the magistrate's efforts and wastes judicial economy. Howard v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).

         McCloud made a timely objection to the Recommendation. [R. 68.] McCloud objects in the following ways: 1) he continues to suffer from a “severe personality disorder . . . despite being prescribed medication;” 2) the competency report and sanity report suggest McCloud should be further evaluated for a personality disorder; and 3) “Dr. Campbell testified that a mood or thought disorder coupled with a personality disorder could impact competency to stand trial.” [See R. 68 at 2.] Maxwell's objections are sufficiently definite to trigger this Court's obligation to conduct a de novo review, though this Court points out that these issues were all addressed in the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Disposition. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(c). Regardless, the Court has satisfied the duty for a de novo review, reviewing the entire record, including the motions, briefing, the parties' arguments, ...

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