Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Berry

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

December 19, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Duane Letroy Berry, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: October 30, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:15-cr-20743-1-David M. Lawson, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Craig A. Daly, CRAIG A. DALY, P.C., Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant. Kevin M. Mulcahy, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Craig A. Daly, CRAIG A. DALY, P.C., Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant. Kevin M. Mulcahy, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: MERRITT, CLAY, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          JOHN K. BUSH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         When the government seeks to involuntarily medicate a mentally incompetent defendant to restore his competency for trial, the government's prosecutorial interest must be balanced against the defendant's "significant . . . liberty interest [under the Constitution] in avoiding the unwanted administration of antipsychotic drugs." Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166, 178 (2003) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 221 (1990)). Aside from the potentially dangerous (and sometimes fatal) side effects of antipsychotic drugs, their very nature is to alter the cognitive processes of the patient. The drastic step of administering these powerful drugs to an unwilling criminal defendant should be taken rarely, and only when absolutely necessary to fulfill an important governmental interest, to avoid deprivation of the defendant's "liberty . . . without due process of law." U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV § 1.

         Defendant Duane Berry is charged with Conveying False Information Regarding Explosives, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1038(a), which carries a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. He allegedly placed a briefcase made to look like a bomb, but containing only papers and no explosives, outside a bank. Berry is not competent to stand trial absent medication-and even that is not guaranteed-but he does not wish to be medicated. The district court ordered him to be treated with antipsychotic drugs.

         As discussed below, even assuming the five-year statutory maximum sentence for the charged crime makes it a serious offense that could qualify for Berry to be forcibly medicated, there are significant mitigating factors that weigh against finding that the government has a sufficient interest for such mandated treatment. Most importantly, Berry has already been confined for the length of time he likely would face as imprisonment if convicted, and his pretrial confinement would likely be credited against his jail term. In these circumstances we find that the government has not shown that its interest in prosecuting Berry outweighs his due process liberty interest. Accordingly, we REVERSE the decision of the district court and VACATE its order compelling Berry to be involuntarily medicated.

         I.

         Berry's prosecution arises from a briefcase that the government alleges he placed outside of a Bank of America branch office in Detroit, Michigan, on November 6, 2015. This was no ordinary briefcase. According to the government, it was made to look like a bomb, though it actually contained no explosive device. Instead, all that was inside were various documents, some bearing Berry's name and signature, evidencing a dispute between Berry and the bank.

         Berry suffers from mental illness. He apparently believes that he is the trustee of a trust which owns all of Bank of America's assets, and that it is his duty to execute the trust and repossess those assets. According to the government, the briefcase incident was not Berry's first encounter with the bank. The week before the briefcase appeared, a wave of vandalism swept across multiple Bank of America locations throughout Detroit, and the government believes that Berry was responsible, based on a statement given by one of his relatives. For his part, Berry is convinced that, in addition to his status as a trustee of Bank of America's assets, he is a government agent and thus is immune from federal prosecution for any acts the government claims he has committed.

         After Berry's arrest and arraignment, the district court ordered his evaluation for competency to stand trial. Berry was first evaluated by Dr. Christine Scronce, a Bureau of Prisons forensic psychologist. She diagnosed Berry with a delusional disorder and opined that without treatment, including medication, he is unlikely to be competent to stand trial. After conducting a hearing on the issue, the district court agreed with Dr. Scronce's findings.

         On August 30, 2016, the district court ordered Berry into the custody of the Attorney General for treatment to regain competency. The initial order was for a period of treatment and evaluation to last no longer than four months, although it was later extended to five months. This order did not require Berry to be medicated.

         Berry was sent to the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. Treatment there was unsuccessful. He would not participate in group therapy and refused staff requests to answer even basic informational questions. Berry met with his principal psychologist, Dr. Kristina Lloyd, only five times, and he cut short each interview after only a few minutes. Berry served a purported lawsuit upon Dr. Lloyd and claimed to have filed professional complaints against her and the other doctors at the facility. Most importantly, Berry refused to take medication.

         Given the inefficacy of other methods of treatment, Dr. Lloyd recommended that the district court consider involuntary medication. Although antipsychotic medications are not guaranteed to "cure" Berry or even mitigate his symptoms, approximately 70-80% of patients receive positive benefits from this type of treatment. Furthermore, the doctors who attempted to treat Berry do not believe that he has a realistic hope of regaining competency without some sort of medication regimen. The possible side effects, however, are not insignificant. They potentially include "weight gain, muscle stiffness, restlessness, sedation . . . suicide, diabetes, high cholesterol, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, dystonic reaction, Parkinson's syndrome-like symptoms and sudden death." Appellant Br. at 11. Nonetheless, Berry's doctors do not believe that there are any less intrusive alternatives to medication which might effectively treat his mental illness.

         The district court conducted two hearings to determine whether involuntary medication would comply with the Sell requirements to order such treatment. These requirements are (1) "that important governmental interests are at stake," Sell, 539 U.S. at 180; (2) that "involuntary medication will significantly further those concomitant state interests," id. at 181; (3) that the proposed treatment is necessary to the furtherance of the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.