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United States v. Dunahoo

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

July 3, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MITCHELL DUNAHOO, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          LINDA T. WALKER MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Mitchell Dunahoo (“Defendant”) has been indicted by the grand jury for utilizing means of interstate commerce to harass and intimidate to cause substantial emotional distress to a person in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261A(2)(B), and making repeated telephone calls to harass a specific person receiving those communications in violation of Title 47, United States Code, Section 223(a)(1)(E). (Doc. 4). For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that Defendant be found NOT COMPETENT to stand trial and that he be committed to the Attorney General for further evaluation.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 4, 2019, this Court held a hearing on the Government's Motion for a Mental Health Evaluation. (Doc. 21). During the hearing, the Court was informed of, inter alia, Defendant's belief that the FBI was monitoring his computer, and that the government was conspiring against him, monitoring his activities, and engaging in cyberterrorism. In support of his allegations, Defendant provided the Court with a voluminous number of documents chronicling his previously filed lawsuits and allegations of government corruption which included his belief that “the government forced [him] awake and asleep multiple times using their government computer/technology.” (Def.'s Ex. 1, at 1-43). The Court also heard recordings of disturbing telephone calls Defendant left on a government employee's voice mail. Thereafter, the Court granted the Government's Motion for a Mental Health Evaluation and ordered the Defendant to undergo an independent mental health evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial and/or whether he is suffering from a mental disease or defect pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(a), 4241(b), and 4247(b). (Doc. 22).

         In accordance with this Court's order, a forensic psychologist, Dr. Judith (Betsy) Campbell evaluated Defendant and issued a written report detailing her opinion of Defendant's competency. (Doc. 26-1, a filed under seal). Dr. Campbell opined in her evaluation and findings that Defendant is currently 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. (Doc. 26-1, at 8) (emphasis original). Dr. Campbell concluded that Defendant is not currently competent to stand trial. (Id.) (emphasis original). The Government did not contest Dr. Campbell's opinion and recommendation.

         LEGAL STANDARD FOR JUDGING COMPETENCY

         Title 18 U.S.C. § 4241 et seq. guides the assessment of competence for a defendant in federal criminal proceedings. Section 4241(d) provides that the Court shall find the defendant to be incompetent “[i]f, after the [competency] 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 . . . .” 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). The test is “whether [the defendant] has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding - and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.” Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402 (1960) (per curiam) (construing Section 4241's predecessor, 18 U.S.C. § 4244 (1958)).

         FACTS AND DISCUSSION

         1. On March 22, 2019, Defendant was admitted to the Federal Medical Center (“FMC”) in Lexington, Kentucky for a psychological assessment. (Doc. 26-1 at 1).

         2. From March 22, 2019 through April 22, 2019, Defendant was examined by medical staff, observed regularly by correctional staff and other unit team members, and evaluated by Dr. Campbell. (Id.).

         3. Prior to the interview, Dr. Campbell informed Defendant that she would be evaluating him to assist the Court with determining his competency to stand trial. (Id.).

         4. Defendant was informed of the nature and purpose of evaluation, that the typical confidential relationship between psychologist and patient did not exist, that the evaluation was not confidential, and that a report would be prepared, submitted to the Court, and distributed to both the prosecuting and defense attorneys. (Id.).

         5. Defendant acknowledged those issues and appeared to understand that the evaluation and the subsequent report were not confidential. (Id.). As a result, the evaluation proceeded on that basis. (Id.).

         6. Defendant was asked to complete a personal history questionnaire, however, he refused to answer questions about his parents, and he refused to provide the name of his high school or identify the college he attended, although he did state that he received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in 1990. (Doc. 26-1, at 2- 3). The written responses Defendant provided, however, were quite thorough and reflected an adequate understanding of the criminal justice system, its participants, and the pending criminal charges against him. (Doc. 26-1, at 4). ...


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