United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
H. THOMPSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is now before the court on the question of how to
proceed in light of the recent ‘restorability'
evaluation of defendant Eldrick Deon McNeal by the
mental-health staff of the United States Bureau of Prisons
(BOP) in Butner, North Carolina. See Forensic
Evaluation (doc. no. 259).
On April 9, 2019, the court issued an opinion finding that
McNeal was again incompetent to stand trial based on the
evidence in the record (including a ‘competency'
evaluation by the BOP) and the testimony presented at a
competency hearing held on March 29, 2019. See United
States v. McNeal, 2:15cr199-MHT, 2019 WL 1532228 (M.D.
Ala. 2019) (Thompson, J.). Based on that finding, the court
also ordered the BOP to conduct an additional
‘restorability' evaluation of whether there was a
substantial probability that “in the foreseeable
future” McNeal would attain the capacity to permit his
trial and, if so, what measures could be taken to maintain
his competency. Id. at *3.
On October 22, 2019, the BOP issued a new psychiatric report
in response to the April 9 order. See Forensic
Evaluation (doc. no. 259). In the report, BOP clinician
Adeirdre Stribling Riley, Ph.D., states that McNeal's
“current delusional ideation and psychotic thought
process are entrenched and are of sufficient severity that he
is unable to proceed to trial at this time.”
Id. at 9. Dr. Riley concludes that it is
“unlikely he will be restored to competency in the
foreseeable future despite our extensive efforts.”
Id. On October 29, the court held an on-the-record
conference call with government and defense counsel to
discuss what the next steps in this litigation should be.
agreed that, based on the October 22 BOP report, the next
step would be for the court to hold an evidentiary hearing on
the issue of McNeal's ‘restorability,' that is,
“whether there is a substantial probability that in the
foreseeable future he will attain the capacity to permit the
proceedings go forward.” 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d)(1).
They further agreed that, should the court find McNeal's
“mental condition has not so improved as to permit the
proceedings to go forward, ” 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d),
the next step would be for the court to order the BOP to
conduct a ‘dangerousness' evaluation, that is, an
evaluation of whether McNeal “is presently suffering
from a mental disease or defect as a result of which his
release would create a substantial risk of bodily injury to
another person or serious damage to property of
another.” 18 U.S.C. § 4246(a).
the court has previously found that McNeal's condition
has significantly worsened in the local jails here in
Montgomery, Alabama, hearings in this case have been
conducted with McNeal and defense counsel appearing by
videoconferencing from the BOP facility in Butner, North
Carolina, where McNeal has been hospitalized. The court
wishes to avoid the further delay and inconvenience to the
parties of holding two hearings, one on the issue of
restorability and another on the issue dangerousness, a
procedure that would require counsel for McNeal to travel
from Alabama to North Carolina two times. With the agreement
of both counsel for the defense and the government, as
expressed on the record on October 29, the court will instead
set a hearing on both issues after the BOP has completed an
evaluation of McNeal's dangerousness pursuant to §
it is ORDERED as follows:
Based on the BOP's determination that defendant Eldrick
Deon McNeal's mental condition has not improved
sufficiently to permit the proceedings in this case to go
forward, defendant McNeal is recommitted to the custody of
the Attorney General of the United States for a
‘dangerousness' evaluation pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
Attorney General shall again hospitalize defendant McNeal for
treatment in a suitable facility for such a reasonable period
of time for the director of the facility in which defendant
McNeal is hospitalized to determine, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 4246(a), whether defendant McNeal is currently
suffering from a mental disease or defect as a result of
which his release would create a substantial risk of bodily
injury to another person or serious damage to property of
another. This determination should include consideration of
whether any risk he poses to society can be minimized by
special conditions imposed on his release and, if so, a
recommendation of what those conditions should be, including
mental-health and/or substance-abuse treatment. If the BOP
finds that defendant McNeal should not be released, it shall
include in its report whether suitable arrangements for state
custody and care of defendant McNeal are available.
further ORDERED that, after the BOP has completed and filed
its ‘dangerousness' evaluation, the court will hold
a hearing on both the issues of ‘restorability' and
‘dangerousness,' with defendant McNeal and defense
counsel appearing by videoconferencing from the BOP facility
in Butner, North Carolina.
further ORDERED that the BOP is to retain custody of
defendant McNeal at its mental-health facility in Butner,
North Carolina (even after the completion of the