United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court
before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of the
Honorable United States Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman,
(ECF No. 246), recommending that Defendant Dominique Grace
(“Defendant”) is competent to stand trial.
Defendant timely filed his Objection, (ECF No. 257), and the
Government timely filed a Response, (ECF No. 263). For the
reasons discussed below, the Court overrules Defendant's
February 23, 2016, Defendant was charged with conspiracy to
distribute a controlled substance in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 846(a)(1), 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(iii).
(See Indictment, ECF No. 1). On April 27, 2017,
Defense Counsel filed a Motion for Hearing to Determine
Competency because he was concerned Defendant demonstrated
low cognitive abilities and an inability to understand
documents. (See Mor. for Hr'g to Determine
Competency 3:24-26, ECF No. 148). On May 23, 2018, the Court
determined that good cause existed to order Defendant to
undergo a psychiatric or psychological examination by a
licensed or certified psychiatrist or psychologist.
(See Order, ECF No. 156).
counsel hired Dr. Thomas Kinsora (“Dr. Kinsora”),
a neuro-psychologist, to assess Defendant's level of
functioning, and he opines that Defendant is not competent to
assist counsel. (See Mot. for Hr'g to Determine
Competency, Def.'s Ex. B at 16, ECF No. 148).
“[T]he government obtained a report from [Dr. Jaime
Jauregui (“Dr. Jauregui”)], a forensic
psychologist at the Metropolitan Correctional Center
(“MCC”), Federal Bureau of Prisons, San Diego,
which opined that [Defendant] was competent to assist his
counsel, and to understand the nature of the proceedings
against him.” (R. & R. 2:3-6, ECF No. 246);
(see Exhibit List, Gov't.'s Ex. 2, ECF No.
224). As a result of the doctors' differing opinions, the
Court held a competency hearing on November 28, 2017, and
took the matter under submission. (See Mins. of
Proceeding, ECF No. 223).
hearing, evidence was presented that Dr. Kinsora conducted an
evaluation of Defendant “over a period of six hours at
the federal detention facility, and collected information
regarding his social, educational, vocational, criminal and
medical histories, and additionally conducted numerous
neuro-psychological tests.” (R. & R. 5:20-22, ECF
No. 246); (see Exhibit List, Def.'s Ex. B at 32,
ECF No. 224). Dr. Kinsora testified that his tests revealed
that Defendant is intellectually disabled and functionally
illiterate. (R. & R. 5:24-6:2, ECF No. 246). Dr. Kinsora
opined that Defendant “would be able to understand a
conspiracy allegation if it were explained to him.”
(Id. 6:11-12). Additionally, and on
cross-examination Dr. Kinsora “changed his opinion and
indicated that [Defendant] was able to understand the nature
and consequences of the proceedings.” (Id.
Jauregui conducted an evaluation of Defendant at MCC over
seven different days totaling an eighteen-hour period from
July 5, 2017 until August 4, 2017. (Id. 7:3-4);
(see Exhibit List, Gov't.'s Ex. 2 at 15, ECF
No. 224). Dr. Jauregui performed clinical interviews,
observed Defendant's behavior, reviewed legal documents
with Defendant, administered psychological tests, reviewed
recorded phone calls made by Defendant, and consulted with
MCC staff. (R. & R. 7:5-8). Dr. Jauregui “diagnosed
Grace with Intellectual Disability, Mild, ” and opined
that Defendant's “disability does not substantially
impair his present ability to understand the nature and
consequences of the court proceedings brought against him, or
substantially impair his ability to properly assist counsel
in a defense.” (Id. 8:6, 10:15-17);
(see Exhibit List, Gov't.'s Ex. 2 at 21, ECF
No. 224). After a review of the evidence presented, Judge
Hoffman determined that although Defendant “suffers
from a mild intellectual disability, it does not
substantially impair his competence to stand trial.”
(R. & R. 13:23-24).
Objection to a Magistrate's Report and
may file specific written objections to the findings and
recommendations of a United States Magistrate Judge made
pursuant to Local Rule IB 1-4. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B);
D. Nev. R. IB 3-2. Upon the filing of such objections, the
Court must make a de novo determination of those
portions of the Report to which objections are made.
Id. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); D. Nev. IB
Competency to Stand Trial
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits trying a
defendant who is mentally incompetent. Cooper v.
Oklahoma, 517 U.S. 348, 354 (1996); Pate v.
Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 378 (1966). “A person
whose mental condition is such that he lacks the capacity to
understand the nature and object of the proceedings against
him, to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing his
defense may not be subjected to a trial.” Drope v.
Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 171 (1975).
treatment of defendants suffering from a mental disease or
defect is governed by the Insanity Defense Reform Act of
1984. 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241-48. The Federal Criminal
Code establishes a multi-part statutory scheme for addressing
defendants suffering from a mental disease or defect who have
pending federal charges. If a question is raised concerning
whether a defendant is competent to stand trial or assist in
his defense, the court first determines whether the defendant
suffers 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(a), and (d); see also United States v.
Friedman, 366 F.3d 975, 980 (9th Cir. 2004). Section
4241(d) establishes a two-part disjunctive test of
competency. Id. A defendant must be able both to
understand the nature of the proceedings against him, and to
assist properly in his defense. Id.
Supreme Court held that the test for determining whether a
defendant is competent to stand trial is “whether he
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 (1960); see also Cooper v.
Oklahoma, 517 U.S. 348, 356 (1996) (quoting
Dusky and stating the test for incompetence is well
settled). It is the Government's burden to prove by ...