United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINAL REPORT AND
RUSSELL G. VINEYARD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
October 30, 2018, defendant Chaune Dwayne Duffy
(“Duffy”) was found to be mentally incompetent to
proceed with his sentencing hearing, and pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 4241(d), he was committed to the custody of the
Attorney General for a period not to exceed four months for
the purpose of attempting to restore him to competency to
permit these proceedings to go forward. [Doc.
Following evaluation and treatment of Duffy at the Federal
Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina (“FMC
Butner”), the Court, as well as counsel, received a
copy of a forensic evaluation and certification of
restoration of competency to proceed with his sentencing
hearing. See [Doc. 35; Doc. 36 (Gov. Ex. 1); Doc. 38
(Gov. Ex. 2 (under seal))]. On July 10, 2019, the Court
conducted an evidentiary hearing and heard from counsel
concerning Duffy's competency. See [Doc. 35].
After careful consideration of the evidence of record,
arguments of counsel, and relevant legal authority, it is
RECOMMENDED that Duffy be found mentally
competent to proceed with his sentencing hearing.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was charged in a twenty-two count indictment with unlawful
possession and printing of counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 472 and 474(a).
See [Doc. 1]. On February 26, 2018, Duffy entered a
guilty plea to all counts of the indictment. See
[Doc. 18]. Prior to sentencing, Duffy filed a motion for a
psychiatric examination pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241,
and he requested a hearing to determine his competency. [Doc.
26]. Upon review of the motion and record in this case, the
Court found that there was reasonable cause to believe that
Duffy may be suffering from a mental disease or defect
rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he may
be unable to understand the nature and consequences of the
proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense,
and on June 28, 2018, the Court ordered Duffy to be committed
to FMC Butner to be examined pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
4241. [Doc. 28]. Duffy was examined by Heather H. Ross, PhD.
(“Dr. Ross”), a forensic psychologist, who
subsequently prepared a forensic evaluation concluding that
Duffy was mentally incompetent to proceed with his sentencing
hearing. [Doc. 31 (under seal)].
October 30, 2019, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing
concerning Duffy's competency to proceed with his
sentencing hearing. See [Doc. 30]. The Court
afforded the parties the opportunity to present evidence and
testimony, and the parties stipulated to the admission of Dr.
Ross' report, under seal, and they concurred with her
finding that Duffy was suffering from a mental disease or
defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that
he was unable to understand the nature and consequences of
the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his
defense. See [id.]. The Court found that
Duffy was not competent to proceed with his sentencing
hearing and committed him for treatment and evaluation
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). [Doc. 29].
arrived at FMC Butner on December 4, 2018, and he remained
there through May 2019 for evaluation. [Doc. 35; Doc. 38 at
3]. On May 24, 2019, the Warden of FMC Butner sent to the
Court and counsel a forensic evaluation of Duffy and a
Certificate of Recovery indicating that Duffy is competent to
proceed with his sentencing hearing, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 4241(e). [Docs. 35 & 36]. The forensic evaluation
was completed by Robert Cochrane, Psy.D. (“Dr.
Cochrane”), a forensic psychologist, who concluded that
Duffy is able to understand the nature and consequences of
the proceedings against him and to assist in his defense.
[Doc. 38 at 3-9]. On July 10, 2019, the Court conducted an
evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether Duffy's
competency has been restored to the extent that he has the
capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the
proceedings against him and to assist properly in his
defense. [Doc. 35].
and his attorney, as well as the prosecutor, appeared at the
competency hearing, see [id.], and the
Court received into evidence without objection the
Certificate of Recovery, [Doc. 36], and the accompanying
forensic evaluation, [Doc. 38], under seal, see
[Doc. 35]. The forensic report prepared by Dr. Cochrane
summarized Duffy's history and course of evaluation and
treatment at FMC Butner. [Doc. 38 at 3-9]. Duffy was
interviewed and observed by psychiatry staff throughout his
stay and administered antipsychotic medications.
[Id. at 3-4]. Duffy consistently reported doing well
on his regimen of medication. [Id. at 4]. Although
he had some disciplinary issues that resulted in him being
placed in a secured housing unit on three occasions, he
otherwise resided on an open mental health unit throughout
his admission and generally was appropriate with staff and
his peers. [Id. at 4-5]. During clinical interviews,
his presentation remained very consistent, and he reported no
psychiatric symptoms other than mild sadness from missing his
family. [Id. at 5]. Toward the end of his admission,
it became clear to staff that Duffy wished to leave FMC
Butner and return to court to resolve his case.
of the restoration to competency process, Duffy was referred
to a weekly class designed to provide education about the
U.S. legal system, which he sporadically attended.
[Id.]. Dr. Cochrane interviewed Duffy on several
occasions throughout the evaluation period, [id. at
3], and he posed questions to Duffy regarding specific
functional elements to competency identified in the
literature, [id. at 6-9]. Dr. Cochrane reported that
Duffy displayed factual understanding of the legal process,
courtroom procedures, possible pleas and sentences, and the
roles of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.
[Id. at 6-7]. Duffy also demonstrated a rational
understanding of legal proceedings and his own case, as well
as reasoning ability to process relevant information and to
consult with and assist counsel in his defense. [Id.
was diagnosed with Delusional Disorder, but Dr. Cochrane
noted reservations about that diagnosis and suspected that
Duffy may have exaggerated psychotic symptoms, and he could
not definitely determine whether Duffy's reported beliefs
about the Illuminati were delusional or
malingered. [Id. at 5-6]. However, he
reported that Duffy was not symptomatic and demonstrated good
competency abilities, adding that Duffy appeared quite eager
to depart FMC Butner and to be found competent after spending
several weeks at the facility and taking antipsychotic
medication. [Id. at 6]. Accordingly, Dr. Cochrane
opined that Duffy is currently competent to proceed with
sentencing as he is not suffering from a mental disease or
defect which would render him unable to understand the nature
and consequences of the proceedings against him, to assist
properly in his own defense, or to understand the
consequences and significance of the proceedings against him.
[Id. at 9].
Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the
government from trying a defendant who is incompetent.”
United States v. Rahim, 431 F.3d 753, 759 (11th Cir.
2005) (per curiam) (citations omitted). The test for
determining competency to stand trial is “whether
[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) (internal marks omitted). “Whether the
defendant is competent is an ongoing inquiry; the defendant
must be competent at all stages of trial.”
Rahim, 431 F.3d at 759 (citation omitted).
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.” Wright v. Sec'y for the Dep't
of Corr., 278 F.3d 1245, 1259 (11th Cir. 2002) (citation
and internal marks omitted); see also Battle v. United
States, 419 F.3d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 2005) (per
curiam) (same). Neither proof of “low intelligence,
mental deficiency, nor bizarre, volatile, and irrational
behavior” is necessarily “equated with mental
incompetence to stand trial.” Medina v.
Singletary, 59 F.3d 1095, 1107 (11th Cir. 1995)
(citation omitted); see also Battle, 419 F.3d at
1299 (same). Nor does the fact that a defendant “has
been treated with anti-psychotic drugs” render him per
se incompetent to stand trial. Medina, 59 F.3d at
1107 (citation omitted). Quite often the best evidence of a
defendant's competence to stand trial is the evidence of
his behavior during the relevant time period,
“especially the evidence of how he related to and
communicated with others[.]” Wright, 278 F.3d
undisputed evidence in this case, as presented in the
forensic evaluation admitted at the evidentiary hearing,
demonstrates that Duffy is presently able to understand the
nature and consequences of the proceedings against him and
has sufficient ability to assist his lawyer in his defense.
See [Docs. 35 & 38]. In response to questions
posed by Dr. Cochrane, Duffy displayed good factual knowledge
of legal proceedings and courtroom procedures, and he
understood possible pleas and potential sentences, as well as
the roles of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.
[Doc. 38 at 6-7]. Duffy was able to describe the nature of
the charges against him and the likely sentencing range he
faces resulting from his entry of a guilty plea, and he
demonstrated the ability to make rational decisions and to
consult with and assist his lawyer. [Id. at 8-9].
Dr. Cochrane reported that Duffy did not exhibit any symptoms
of mental illness at the time of his evaluation, and he had a
solid understanding of the nature and consequences of the
proceedings against him and is capable of assisting properly
in his defense. [Id. at 9]. Therefore, the
undisputed evidence of record supports finding that Duffy is
presently competent to proceed with his sentencing hearing.