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United States v. Wills

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia

August 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOSHUA WARREN WILLS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN T. COPENHAVER, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On August 9, 2019, the United States of America appeared by Drew O. Inman, Assistant United States Attorney, and the defendant, Joshua Warren Wills, appeared in person and by his counsel, David R. Bungard, Assistant Federal Public Defender, for a hearing pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(c) and 4247(d). The court received on August 7, 2019, from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York, New York, a copy of the Competency to Stand Trial Evaluation and the Criminal Responsibility Evaluation, which are hereby ORDERED filed under SEAL.

         Inasmuch as the parties had no further evidence to present as to the defendant's mental competency, other than the March 21, 2019 written report of Steven F. Dreyer, Ph.D., forensic psychologist, and based upon the Competency to Stand Trial Evaluation, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently 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.

         In United States v. Broncheau, 645 F.3d 676 (4th Cir. 2011), our court of appeals outlined the purpose behind, and process attached to, section 4241 determinations:

Section 4241 addresses the circumstances under which the mental competency of a criminal defendant is to be assessed. It was designed to ensure the integrity of the judicial system, i.e., protecting a defendant from criminal proceedings that he cannot understand, and barring prosecutors from pursuing such proceedings against mentally defective defendants....
If the court, after conducting a § 4241 competency hearing, finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant lacks the requisite mental competency, he is committed to custody pending improvement of his mental condition or further proceedings. See § 4241(d) .

Id. at 686 (citation omitted).

         As noted in Broncheau, 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d) provides for the next steps in ascertaining and evaluating defendant's mental condition:

(d) Determination and disposition.-If, after the hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently 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, the court shall commit the defendant to the custody of the Attorney General. The Attorney General shall hospitalize the defendant for treatment in a suitable facility-
(1) for such a reasonable period of time, not to exceed four months, as is necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future he will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward; and
(2) for an additional reasonable period of time until--
(A) his mental condition is so improved that trial may proceed, if the court finds that there is a substantial probability that within such additional period of time he will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward; or
(B) the pending charges against him are disposed of according ...

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