United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANT'S
COMPETENCY TO STAND TRIAL
Gail Dein, United States Magistrate Judge
matter has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge
for a Report and Recommendation on the defendant's
competency to stand trial. For the reasons detailed herein,
this Court recommends to the District Judge to whom this case
is assigned that the defendant be committed for further
evaluation and treatment for restoration of competency
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d).
defendant, Jamie Figueroa, is under indictment for being a
felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On April 18, 2018, defense
counsel filed an assented-to motion requesting that the Court
order a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 4241. The motion was allowed on April 23,
2018 (Docket No. 27), and an amended order authorizing the
examination was entered by this Court on May 4, 2018. (Docket
No. 30). The defendant was referred to the Federal Medical
Center (FMC) Devens, where he was evaluated during the period
of June 7, 2018 through July 7, 2018. On August 10, 2018, a
report was issued by Chad Tillbrook, PhD, a forensic
psychologist at FMC Devens. (Sealed Docket No. 53). As
described further below, Dr. Tillbrook recommended that Mr.
Figueroa be committed for further evaluation and treatment
for restoration of his competency pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
defendant thereafter requested the opportunity to have an
independent psychiatric examination conducted. An independent
examination was conducted by Robert H. Joss, PhD, a forensic
psychologist, on September 24, 2018. In a report dated
November 6, 2018, Dr. Joss reached a contrary conclusion to
that expressed by Dr. Tillbrook.
evidentiary hearing was held before this Court on November
13, 2018. That morning, the defendant refused to come to
court, and this Court declined to order that the defendant be
forcibly brought to the courtroom. The Court did permit the
hearing to go forward, over defense counsel's objection,
so that the government could present the testimony of Dr.
Tillbrook, who had travelled from out of state for the
Tillbrook testified at the evidentiary hearing, and was
cross-examined by defense counsel. At the conclusion of this
testimony, the hearing was continued so that defense counsel
could consult with the defendant. Although Dr. Joss was
present in the courtroom, the defense did not call him as a
witness, electing to await consultation with Mr. Figueroa and
to assess whether Dr. Joss' opinion remained unchanged in
light of the defendant's decision not to participate in
the court proceedings.
November 15, 2018, the defendant filed a status report
notifying the Court that Mr. Figueroa would not be presenting
any evidence and asking “that the Court rule on the
question of competency based on the testimony and evidence
already received.” (Docket No. 68). This Report and
Tillbrook testified consistently with his detailed report of
August 10, 2018. Specifically, but without limitation, Dr.
Tillbrook testified that Mr. Figueroa had been previously
diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar II
Disorder, Bipolar I Disorder with Psychotic Features, and
Schizophrenia. Dr. Tillbrook determined that the defendant is
presently suffering from Schizophrenia. As he concluded in
Mr. Figueroa has an adequate factual understanding of the
courtroom proceedings. However, due to his psychiatric
illness, the defendant has substantial impairment in making
rational decisions pertinent to the adjudication of his case.
His disorganized thinking and delusional beliefs produce
significant deficits in his ability to participate rationally
with his attorney in the preparation and implementation of
(Docket No. 53 at 12).
be found competent, a defendant must have both
‘sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer
with a reasonable degree of rational understanding' and
‘a rational as well as factual understanding of the
proceedings against him.'” United States v.
Reynolds, 646 F.3d 63, 70 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting
Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct.
788, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960)). See also 18 U.S.C.
§ 4241(a) (a hearing on mental competency may be held to
determine if the defendant is “suffering 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.”). This Court finds, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant is
presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering
him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to