United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Timothy Jermaine
Pate's motion to evaluate Mr. Pate' competency, doc.
28, and the Government's request for an examination as to
whether Mr. Pate was insane at the time of the offenses
charged in this case, doc. 40 at 2. The Court held a hearing
on these matters on May 2, 2019. Prior to this hearing, Dr.
Lisa B. Feldman conducted a psychiatric evaluation of
Defendant and authored a report (“the Psychiatric
Report”) summarizing her findings. Doc. 47. Based on
the entire record in this case, including the Psychiatric
Report, I find Mr. Pate is capable of understanding the
charges against him and meaningfully consulting with his
attorney about his defense, and that Mr. Pate was able to
appreciate the nature and quality of his actions at the time
of the alleged offenses. Therefore, I
RECOMMEND the Court find that Defendant Pate
is competent to stand trial and proceed with this case and
that Mr. Pate was not insane at the time of the offenses
charged in this case.
United States charges Mr. Pate with filing false retaliatory
liens against federal officials and making a false bankruptcy
declaration. Doc. 21. Beginning with Defendant's initial
appearance and continuing through several other hearings, Mr.
Pate refused to cooperate with proceedings or engage in any
dialog with the Court. Docs. 8, 13, 18. During hearings, Mr.
Pate made various incoherent arguments regarding
“commercial presentments” and the Uniform
Commercial Code and has exclaimed that he does not consent to
the Court's jurisdiction over him. See, e.g.,
Doc. 18. Mr. Pate has continually disrupted proceedings in
this case, requiring the Court-more than once-to remove Mr.
Pate from the courtroom. Id. The Court appointed
counsel to represent Mr. Pate at his initial appearance. Doc.
8. During that hearing and at subsequent hearings, Mr. Pate
has complained about being represented by appointed counsel
but has refused to engage in any meaningful exchange with the
Court regarding legal representation, making it impossible
for the Court to conduct a Faretta hearing to
determine if he was knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently
requesting to proceed pro se. Doc. 18. As such, Mr. Pate has
been represented by appointed counsel since his initial
appearance and continues to be represented.
Pate's initial appearance and arraignment on the
superseding indictment in this case, Mr. Pate's appointed
counsel made an unopposed motion asking the Court to order an
evaluation of Mr. Pate's mental competency. Docs. 28, 32.
During that hearing, Mr. Pate was again disruptive, the Court
removed him from the courtroom, and he was placed in an area
where he could view proceedings remotely. Doc. 32. Also
during the hearing, the Government requested that Mr. Pate be
examined pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4242(a) to determine if
he was insane at the time of committing the alleged offenses.
Id. The Court issued an Order based on 18 U.S.C.
§ 4241(b) granting defense counsel's motion and
ordering that Mr. Pate be evaluated by a psychiatrist or
psychologist under 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247(b) and (c).
Doc. 29. However, the Court declined to order that Mr. Pate
be evaluated for insanity because he had not provided notice
under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that he
intended to rely on an insanity defense. Id. Defense
counsel subsequently provided notice of his intent to pursue
an insanity defense. Doc. 39. The Court ordered that Mr. Pate
be subjected to an insanity evaluation along with his
competency evaluation. Doc. 41.
to the Court's Orders, Dr. Lisa Feldman, a forensic
psychologist, conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Pate
at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida, from
December 3, 2018 to February 2019 and provided a report of
her evaluation to the Court. Doc. 46-1. Dr. Feldman explained
that, although the nature and purpose of Mr. Pate's
evaluation was explained to him and “it appeared that
Mr. Pate understood those procedures, ” Mr. Pate stated
that he did not wish to be evaluated and would not complete
any psychological tests or interviews . Id. at 2-3.
Although Mr. Pate refused to undergo any psychological
testing, Dr. Feldman and members of the facility's staff
observed and interacted with Mr. Pate during the period of
evaluation. Id. Dr. Feldman also conducted a
comprehensive review of the docket in this case and in Mr.
Pate's other civil filing, as well all information on Mr.
Pate's background the Bureau of Prisons was able to
provide. Id. at 2-3. Dr. Feldman also corresponded
with the assigned Assistant United States Attorney in this
case and Mr. Pate's counsel to obtain additional
background information regarding Mr. Pate. Id. at 4.
Dr. Feldman reviewed certain monitored telephone
conversations and e-mail communications by Mr. Pate while he
was at the Federal Detention Center. Dr. Feldman did not find
any evidence that Mr. Pate had a history of mental health
problems. Id. at 5.
Feldman then made several evaluation findings based off her
interactions with Mr. Pate. Id. at 5-7. She observed
that Mr. Pate functioned well at the Federal Detention Center
and that Defendant “exhibited organized, rational,
sequential, and coherent thought processes.”
Id. at 6. Dr. Feldman also indicated that during
monitored phone calls, Mr. Pate's thoughts
“revolved on his current legal issues and his defense
strategy.” Id. Dr. Feldman noted that Mr. Pate
did not require or receive any medical or psychiatric
treatment during his evaluation. Id. at 6-7.
Feldman concluded Mr. Pate satisfied the criteria for adult
antisocial behavior but did not diagnose Mr. Pate with
antisocial personality disorder, which would draw on a
history of conduct disorder in childhood or adolescence.
Id. Dr. Feldman described Mr. Pate's mental
state as “stable” and declined to recommend any
psychiatric treatment. Id. Regarding competency, Dr.
Feldman stated that Mr. Pate's refusal to cooperate in
this proceeding and the making of many nonsensical arguments
“are not believed to be based on any delusional
premise, or any symptoms of an active phase of mental
illness, but rather based on a volitional attempt to thwart
the current legal proceedings.” Id. at 8. Dr.
Feldman explained that she is familiar with Mr. Pate's
peculiar beliefs and defense strategy and has seen a recent
increase in evaluation requests for other “sovereign
citizens” employing similar defenses. Id. Dr.
Feldman concluded Mr. Pate's “defense strategies
are not believed to be based on confused or delusional
thinking, or any symptoms of an active phase of mental
illness.” Id. Dr. Feldman ultimately concluded
there was no evidence to believe Mr. Pate was unable to
understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings
against him, and that Mr. Pate “possesses the capacity
to assist his attorney in his own defense, if motivated to do
so.” Id. Dr. Feldman ultimately recommended
Mr. Pate be found competent to proceed in this case.
Mr. Pate's insanity defense, Dr. Feldman stated her
evaluation of Mr. Pate's mental status did “not
suggest the presence of mental illness that would have
interfered with his criminal responsibility at the time of
the alleged offense.” Id. To the contrary, Dr.
Feldman noted Mr. Pate's actions appeared
“deliberate and organized without evidence of bizarre
behavior[, ]” and that Mr. Pate's motivation for
the alleged offense appeared to be based on his
dissatisfaction with the outcome of a civil case he had
filed. Id. Dr. Feldman concluded by stating it was
her opinion “that Mr. Pate was not suffering from the
symptoms of a mental disorder or disease that were causally
related to the alleged offenses that would have resulted in
his inability to appreciate the nature and quality or the
wrongfulness of his acts.” Id.
review of Dr. Feldman's report, the parties entered a
Joint Stipulation Regarding Competency Report, agreeing that
Dr. Feldman's report was factually correct, and that
Defendant is competent to stand trial. Doc. 47. The parties
also waived the right to present additional evidence at a
competency hearing. Id. Nonetheless, out of an
abundance of caution, the Court held a competency hearing on
May 2, 2019. At the hearing, the Government and defense
counsel reiterated their agreement that Mr. Pate is competent
to stand trial. Doc. 48. Defense counsel confirmed that he
had corresponded directly with Dr. Feldman and provided
information to her regarding his interactions with Mr. Pate.
At the hearing, Mr. Pate continued to be disruptive and
unresponsive to the Court's directions and questions. Mr.
Pate, however, remained in the courtroom throughout the
entire May 2, 2019 hearing. Mr. Pate did not make any
substantive comment regarding his competency to stand trial,
his insanity defense, or his psychiatric evaluation.
is the base upon which other constitutional rights
balance[.]” United States v. Wingo, 789 F.3d
1226, 1228 (11th Cir. 2015); see also Cooper v.
Oklahoma, 517 U.S. 348, 354(1996) (The United States
Supreme Court has “repeatedly and consistently
recognized that the criminal trial of an incompetent
defendant violates due process.”) (internal quotation
and citation omitted); Eddmonds v. Peters, 93 F.3d
1307, 1314 (7th Cir. 1996) (“The Constitution forbids
trial of one who, for whatever reason, is unfit to assist in
his own defense because our adversarial system of justice
depends on vigorous defenses.”).
means “suffering from a mental disease or defect
rendering [the defendant] 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). A defendant is not
entitled to a presumption of incompetency, and he assumes the
burden of proof to establish his incompetency by a
preponderance of the evidence. Cooper, 517 U.S. at
355; Battle v. United States, 419 F.3d 1292, 1298
(11th Cir. 2005). The legal test for competency is
“whether the defendant ‘has sufficient present
ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree
of rational understanding' and has ‘a rational as
well as factual understanding of the proceedings against
him.'” Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389, 396
(1993) (quoting Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402
(1960)); see also United States v. Cruz, 805 F.2d
1464, 1479 (11th Cir. 1986).
every manifestation of mental illness demonstrates
incompetence to stand trial; rather, the evidence must
indicate a present inability to assist counsel or understand
the charges.” Medina v. Singletary, 59 F.3d
1095, 1107 (11th Cir. 1995). Thus, “the mere presence
of a mental disease or defect is not sufficient to render a
defendant incompetent . . . .” United States v.
Rothman, No. 08-20895-CR, 2010 WL 3259927, at *7 (S.D.
Fla. Aug. 18, 2010) (citing United States v.
Liberatore, 856 F.Supp. 358, 360 (N.D. Ohio 1994)).
“Incompetency to stand trial is not defined in terms of
mental illness. As such, a defendant can be competent to
stand trial despite being mentally ill and similarly a
defendant can be found ...