United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
H. THOMPSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Eldrick Deon McNeal was charged with being a felon in
possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). The question before the court is whether he has
the mental capacity to stand trial, that is, whether he is
currently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering
him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is not able to
understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings
against him or to assist properly in his defense.
See 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a). Based on the evidence
presented during a hearing on February 2, 2018, the court
finds that he has the mental capacity to stand trial.
previously stated, the court, in November 2015, ordered an
evaluation of McNeal's competency, see United States
v. McNeal, No. 2:15cr199-MHT, 2015 WL 7721211 (M.D. Ala.
Nov. 30, 2015), and later found him mentally incompetent to
stand trial, see United States v. McNeal, No.
2:15cr199-MHT, 2016 WL 756570 (M.D. Ala. Feb. 26, 2016).
After competency-restoration efforts at the Federal Medical
Center in Butner, North Carolina (“FMC Butner”),
a forensic psychologist there opined, in March 2017, that
McNeal was competent to stand trial, and he was transferred
to a jail in Montgomery, Alabama, so that he could attend a
hearing on whether his competency had, in fact, been
restored. However, while in jail and before the
competency-restoration hearing could be held, McNeal wrote to
the court a personal letter that reflected that his mental
health might be significantly deteriorating, and an updated
assessment was completed. Local psychologist David C.
Ghostley found that McNeal is again “clearly
incompetent to proceed to sentencing due to extreme
paranoia.” Forensic Psychological Evaluation (doc. no.
101) at 2.
appeared that McNeal may have mentally decompensated solely
due to conditions specific to the Montgomery County Jail. In
particular, it appeared that, while in the custody of the
Montgomery County Jail and due to that jail's
prescription policy, he did not receive all medications
prescribed to him by FMC Butner. He was then transferred to
th eLee County Jail, where he could receive all such
medications. After again evaluating McNeal several weeks
after he was transferred to Lee County Jail, Dr. Ghostley
opined again that McNeal was mentally incompetent to stand
trial and he recommended that the court return McNeal to the
custody of the Attorney General for an additional period of
time to allow for further competency-restoration efforts.
Forensic Psychological Evaluation (doc. no. 106). After a
hearing, and with no objections from the parties, the court
found McNeal was again mentally incompetent to stand trial,
and committed him to the custody of the Attorney General for
restoration treatment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
4241(d)(2). See United States v. McNeal, No.
2:15cr199-MHT, 2017 WL 2399578 (M.D. Ala. June 2, 2017).
was then transferred back to FMC Butner. After the course of
treatment, forensic psychologist Adeirdre L. Stribling Riley,
Ph.D., submitted a report to the court in which she opines
that McNeal is now competent to proceed to trial.
See Forensic Psychological Evaluation (doc. no.
112). Dr. Riley's report states that McNeal “has a
rudimentary understanding of the nature and consequences of
the proceedings against him and a basic ability to assist
properly in his own defense.” Id. at 14.
“While he may still have some difficulty following
complex and abstract legal concepts based upon [his]
deficits, ” Dr. Riley notes, “these issues can
best be dealt with by slow and repetitive explanation of the
events or concepts in a concrete and simple manner.”
February 2 competency hearing the parties agreed that the
court should take certain precautions, as outlined below, to
ensure that McNeal receives his medication during and after
transit from FMC Butner to a local facility, and that he does
not again decompensate prior to trial.
based upon the psychological evaluations by Dr. Riley and Dr.
Ghostley, and pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a), the court
concludes that McNeal is not currently suffering from a
mental disease or defect such that he is unable to understand
the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or
to assist properly in his defense.
it is ORDERED that defendant Eldrick Deon McNeal is declared
mentally competent to stand trial in this case.
further ORDERED as follows:
(1) The United States Marshal Service is forthwith to return
defendant McNeal from the Federal Medical Center, Butner, to
a local facility;
(2) Defendant McNeal is to be transferred to a local facility
in which he is able to receive his medications as currently
(3) While in transit from FMC Butner to a local facility,
defendant McNeal is to receive his medications as currently
prescribed, with no gaps in treatment;
(4) As suggested by the government, in order to provide an
accurate “baseline” of defendant McNeal's
psychological state when found competent, the government is
to arrange for him to be seen by a psychiatrist within five
business days of arriving at a local facility; and
(5) After his arrival at a local facility, the government is
to arrange for defendant McNeal to be seen by a psychiatrist
at least once monthly until his trial date, to ensure that