Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Perez-Rives

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

March 14, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
REINIER PEREZ-RIVES

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is currently before the court on the government's motion for a psychiatric examination of defendant Reinier Perez-Rives by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for purposes of sentencing. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted only to the extent, at this time, that the government may obtain an expert of its choosing to conduct a mental-health evaluation of the defendant in the local community.

         I. Background Perez-Rives pled guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, see 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A and 2.

         At his sentencing hearing, Perez-Rives moved for a downward variance based in part on his contention that his mental illness and substance-abuse disorders contributed to his offense conduct. According to a psychological report commissioned by the defense, he was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Cocaine Use Disorder, and Marijuana Use Disorder at the time he committed the offense conduct. See Flores Report (doc. no. 108-2) at 13. The psychologist, Dr. Adriana Flores, opined that, as a result of these disorders, Perez-Rives's “judgment was likely impaired” at the time he committed the offense conduct, and “[t]here appear[ed] to be a direct correlation between Mr. Perez-Rives's mental health and his commission of the offense.” Id.

         In response to Flores's report, the government moved for its own psychiatric evaluation, to be conducted at a BOP facility. The government argued that, if the court intends to rely on Flores's report in fashioning a sentence, the government should be allowed obtain its own psychological evaluation to present as rebuttal evidence. Instead of acquiring a local evaluation as the defense did, the government requested an order of the court requiring Perez-Rives to submit to a longitudinal, in-patient psychiatric examination at a BOP facility--a facility that would be substantially distant from the current venue of these proceedings, that is, the Middle District of Alabama. The government further argued that the evaluation should be done at the BOP because it will be more comprehensive, because of the expertise and experience of the BOP staff, and because an evaluation by the BOP may be more trustworthy than an evaluation by an expert paid by either side. Perez-Rives objected to having the examination conducted at a BOP facility, but did not object to submitting to a psychiatric evaluation locally by an expert selected by the government.

         II. Analysis

         A sentencing court has authority, under 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b), to order a study of a convicted defendant when it “desires more information than is otherwise available to it as a basis for determining the sentence to be imposed.” Studies ordered pursuant to § 3552(b) are to be conducted in the local community, unless at least one of two conditions are met. The statute provides: “The study shall be conducted in the local community by qualified consultants unless the sentencing judge finds that there is a compelling reason for the study to be done by the Bureau of Prisons or there are no adequate professional resources available in the local community to perform the study.” 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b) (emphasis added).

         Therefore, for a court to order an evaluation pursuant to § 3552(b), it must (1) desire more information than is otherwise available to it and (2) order the evaluation to be conducted locally, unless (a) there is a compelling reason for the study to be done by BOP or (b) there are no adequate professional resources available in the local community to perform the study.

         This court has held that there are certain circumstances under which a sentencing judge could reasonably “desire more information” and order a § 3552(b) study. In particular, this court has held that where there is a reasonable basis to believe that a defendant's drug addiction or mental disease or defect contributed to the conduct underlying his or her conviction, the court should order a mental-health evaluation pursuant to § 3552(b) to help determine (1) how a defendant's mental disorder(s) might, for sentencing purposes, mitigate his or her culpability for the offense conduct; and (2) what type of treatment, if any, the defendant should receive during supervised release. See United States v. Mosley, 277 F.Supp.3d 1294 (M.D. Ala. 2017) (Thompson, J.).

         In Mosley, the court on its own ordered an evaluation under § 3552(b) because it wanted, for sentencing purposes, specific information that would be best addressed by a comprehensive, longitudinal evaluation. Because the court found that there were no adequate professional resources available locally to conduct such an evaluation in the jail where Mosley was housed, and because Mosley presented too high a risk of relapse to be released into the community for the evaluation, the court sent Mosley to the BOP for a presentence study of his mental health. See Id. at 1297-1300. Thus, in Mosley, all of the conditions of § 3552(b) were present: the court desired more information, there was a compelling reason for the study to be conducted by the BOP, and locally available professional resources were not adequate.

         Although Perez-Rives's case presents a situation in which ordinarily the court could reasonably “desire more information” and be inclined to order a § 3552(b) evaluation, the defense has already procured an evaluation that addresses the issues raised in Mosley--that is, both culpability and treatment--and it appears the psychologist did a comprehensive job despite the constraints of the jail setting. In preparation for the evaluation, Flores reviewed all of the discovery materials from Perez-Rives's case and interviewed his brother by telephone. She evaluated Perez-Rives over the course of more than four hours, during which time she conducted a clinical interview with psychosocial history and administered three examinations: (1) the Mini Mental State Exam, (2) the Structured Interview Malingered Symptomatology, and (3) the Personality Assessment Inventory.[1] See Flores Report (doc. no. 108-2) at 1. Her conclusions--that Perez-Rives was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Cocaine Use Disorder, and Marijuana Use Disorder, which together contributed to the offense conduct, and that he should receive treatment for depression and substance-abuse--directly address the concerns the court raised in Mosley.

         Thus, because Perez-Rives has already received an evaluation that satisfies the Mosley concerns, the first question before the court is whether the government has convinced the court that it still needs more information about Perez-Rives than is otherwise available prior to making a sentencing determination. See 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b). The government seeks to present its own evidence regarding Perez-Rives's mental-health. See Kansas, 134 S.Ct. at 601 (“When a defendant presents evidence through a psychological expert who has examined him, the government likewise is permitted to use the only effective means of challenging that evidence: testimony from an expert who has also examined him.”). Because the court believes that, in this case, the government should have the opportunity to add to the evidence so that it adequately reflects the positions of both sides, the court “desires more information than is otherwise available to it as a basis for determining the sentence to be imposed.” 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b). Indeed, as stated previously, Perez-Rives does not object to this conclusion.

         The next and more significant question here is whether the court should order, as requested by the government, that Perez-Rives's evaluation be done at the BOP. Unlike the defendant in Mosely, Perez-Rives does object to his evaluation not being done locally.

         As stated, to authorize an evaluation that is not local, the court would need to find that there is a compelling reason for the study to be conducted at the BOP or that adequate professional resources are not available locally. As to the latter, no showing has been made to enable the court to find that “there are no adequate professional resources available in the local community to perform the study.” 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b). While the government briefly stated ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.