United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Carlos Washington is before the court on an amended petition
to revoke his supervised release. The petition alleges 10
violations, two of which allegedly occurred this year. At an
on-the-record hearing on December 11, 2019, defense counsel
represented to this court that Washington has been diagnosed
with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the past. The
court is concerned that Washington's mental-health
challenges may have contributed to his alleged violations,
his decision to plead guilty to one of the alleged offenses
in state court, or both.
on the representations made in open court on December 11, and
for the reasons discussed below, the court will order
Washington to be committed to the custody of the Bureau of
Prisons (BOP) for a mental-health assessment.
court will order, first, an evaluation of Washington's
mental state at the time of his alleged commission of each of
the 10 violations. This evaluation should be as to a possible
insanity defense and to possible mitigating circumstances.
respect to a possible insanity defense, a court typically
orders a psychological examination to determine insanity at
the time of the offense only after the defendant has filed a
notice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12.2,
that he intends to rely on the insanity defense, and after
the government has moved for such an examination under 18
U.S.C. § 4242(a). Here, Washington has not filed such a
notice, and the government has not moved for an evaluation.
even apart from Rule 12.2, this court's inherent powers
over the administration of criminal justice also endow it
with the authority to order a psychological examination under
appropriate circumstances. See, e.g., United
States v. Riley, No. 2:18CR283-MHT, 2018 WL 5660092, at
*2 (M.D. Ala. Oct. 31, 2018) (Thompson, J.); see also
United States v. Pfeifer, 2014 WL 6673844, at *3 (M.D.
Ala. Nov. 24, 2014) (Thompson, J.) (citing United States
v. McSherry, 226 F.3d 153, 155-56 (2d Cir. 2000)). Those
circumstances exist here. Testimony has raised serious
questions as to whether, and to what extent, Washington's
schizophrenia or other mental-health issues contributed to
his alleged violations. The court will thus order that the
BOP examiners determine whether Washington was insane (i.e.,
unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the
wrongfulness of his acts as a result of a severe mental
disease or defect) at the time of the charged violations.
Washington was not insane at the time of the violations, his
mental-health status may prove a mitigating factor at
sentencing. As this court has noted, “where there is a
reasonable basis to believe that a defendant's mental
disease or defect ... contributed to the conduct alleged, the
court should order a mental-health evaluation.”
United States v. Brown, No. 2:15CR22-MHT, 2019 WL
4784816, at *2 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 30, 2019) (Thompson, J.).
Here, the court has reason to believe that Washington's
mental-health issues played a part in his charged conduct,
and therefore may serve as a mitigating factor in a potential
sentencing. Thus, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b), the
court will order an inquiry into Washington's general
mental state at the time of his alleged violations.
pursuant to § 3552(b), the court will order an
assessment of Washington's likely mental state at the
time of his state-court guilty plea to Negotiating Worthless
Instruments in Chilton County, Alabama. Because the plea
could serve as evidence of Washington's underlying
conduct, the court could use this assessment to determine
what weight to give the plea at sentencing.
beyond its possible relevance to determining an appropriate
punishment, Washington's mental health should be
assessed, pursuant to § 3552(b), to identify what
treatment, if any, Washington should receive, during
supervised release, to prevent further criminal activity and
support mental stability. The BOP should thus submit any
recommendations that might further these goals.
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b) and the court's
inherent powers, it is ORDERED that the United States Marshal
for this district shall immediately remove defendant Carlos
Washington to the custody of the warden of an appropriate
institution as may be designated by the Attorney General,
where he is to be committed for the purpose of being
observed, examined, and treated by one or more qualified
psychiatrists or psychologists at the institution. The
examination shall be conducted in the suitable facility
closest to the court, unless impracticable. The statutory
time period for the examination shall commence on the day
defendant Washington arrives at the ...