United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Trevor
Rountree's motion to evaluate Mr. Rountree's
competency, doc. 36. The Court held a hearing on this matter
on October 11, 2019, doc. 45. Subsequent to this hearing, Dr.
Haley Wentowski conducted a psychiatric evaluation of
Defendant and authored a report (“the Psychiatric
Report”) summarizing her findings. Doc. 53. Based on
the entire record in this case, including the Psychiatric
Report, I find Mr. Rountree is capable of understanding the
charges against him and meaningfully consulting with his
attorney about his defense, and that Mr. Rountree 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
Rountree is competent to stand trial and proceed with this
case and that Mr. Rountree was not insane at the time of the
offenses charged in this case.
United States charges Mr. Rountree by way of Indictment with
Count One: Attempted Coercion and Enticement, 18 U.S.C.
§ 2422(b). Doc. 1. Mr. Rountree appeared for his initial
appearance and arraignment on August 8, 2019. On October 4,
2019, Defense filed a Motion for Psychiatric Exam to
Determine Competency of Defendant. Docs. 34, 36. The Court
conducted a hearing on the Motion on October 11, 2019, and
after hearing from the Defense, it was ordered that Defendant
would be committed to BOP for a psychological examination.
Specifically, the Court issued an order based on 18 U.S.C.
§ 4241(b) granting defense counsel's motion and
ordering that Mr. Rountree be evaluated by a psychiatrist or
psychologist under 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247(b) and (c).
to the Court's Order for Psychological Examination, doc.
48, Dr. Haley Wentowski, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist for
the State of Kentucky at the Lexington Federal Medical Center
(FMC), evaluated Mr. Rountree from November 1, 2019 to
November 27, 2019, and provided a report of her evaluation to
the Court. Doc. 53. In her report, Dr. Wentowsky explained
that, based on her evaluation, she is of the opinion that
Defendant Rountree is competent in that Mr. Rountree is able
to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings
against him and assist properly in his defense. Dr. Wentowski
is of the opinion, as stated in her report, that Defendant
Rountree is competent to stand trial.
the review of Dr. Wentowski's report, the Government
indicated in the Status Report filed January 6, 2020, doc.
57, that it had no objection to the Psychiatric Report and
does not request a competency hearing. Mr. Rountree's
counsel filed a notice, indicating that the Defendant
stipulated to Dr. Wentowski Psychiatric Report and is not
requesting a competency hearing. Doc. 59.
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 incompetent to stand trial without
being mentally ill.” United States v.
Williams, No. 5:06-cr-36, 2007 WL 1655371, at *5 (M.D.
Fla. June 7, 2007) (internal citation and quotation marks
an extensive evaluation, Dr. Wentowski formed the opinion
that Mr. Rountree is competent to stand trial in this case.
Dr. Wentowski reached this conclusion after observing and
speaking with Mr. Rountree, reviewing his medical records and
criminal history, and conducting various tests. Defense
counsel has stipulated to Dr. Wentowski's conclusions and
does not seek a competency hearing. Similarly, the Government
has stipulated to Dr. Wentowski's conclusions. And there
is no evidence in the record that contradicts Dr.
Wentowski's conclusions. Indeed, at this point, neither
Mr. Rountree nor the Government dispute Mr. Rountree's
competency. While the undersigned had reasonable cause to
believe Mr. Rountree may have suffered from a mental disease
or defect at the time I ordered Mr. Rountree's competency
evaluation, Dr. Wentowski's thorough evaluation and the
lack of any contradictory evidence have removed any concerns
or doubt about Mr. Rountree's competency. The undersigned
agrees with Dr. Wentowski's conclusion that Mr. Rountree
understands the nature and consequences of the charges
against him, can properly assist in his defense, and,
therefore, is competent to stand trial. I, therefore,
RECOMMEND the Court find that Mr. Rountree
is competent to stand trial.
reasons set forth above, I RECOMMEND the
Court find Mr. Rountree competent to stand trial and proceed
with this case.
Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to
this Report and Recommendation to file specific written
objections within 14 days of the date on which this Report
and Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that
the Magistrate Judge failed to address any contention raised
in the Complaint must also be included. Failure to do so will
bar any later challenge or review of the factual findings or
legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be served upon ...