United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
OPINION AND ORDER
AIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
previously found defendant Douglas Arthur Ivers incompetent
to stand trial and ordered him hospitalized. Following the
four-month hospitalization period provided for in 18 U.S.C.
§ 4241(d), I convened a hearing to reassess
defendant's competency. At the conclusion of that
hearing, I deemed defendant competent to assist in his own
defense and proceed to trial. This opinion sets out in more
detail my reasons for deeming defendant competent.
was indicted in August 2016 for threatening to assault and
murder a federal law enforcement officer, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 875(c).
Defendant was initially represented by the Federal
Defender's office, but disagreements quickly arose
between defendant and his appointed counsel. In October 2016,
he filed a motion to proceed pro se and to dismiss
all the charges against him. Because both defendant and his
lawyer represented to the Court that their differences could
not be overcome, I appointed plaintiffs current counsel, Lisa
Ludwig, to represent him at his competency hearing.
competency hearing began on January 24, 2017. I continued
that hearing to February 23, 2017, to permit defendant to
introduce witnesses and evidence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 4247(d). At the conclusion of the February 23 hearing,
I concluded that defendant was not competent to proceed to
trial or assist in his own defense because he was
"presently ., . 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." Id. § 4241(a). Defendant was
then hospitalized for four months at the U.S. Medical Center
for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. See
Id. § 4241(d)(1).
time of his initial competency hearing, defendant believed
that he was the victim of a large-scale governmental
conspiracy stemming from his alleged role as an informant in
the investigation of various motorcycle gangs. He alleged
that federal authorities (he most commonly names the CIA and
FBI) implanted a "non organic foreign body/object"
into his brain and had been using the implant to torture him.
Beginning shortly after his indictment and continuing through
nearly the full term of his hospitalization, defendant filed
dozens of motions, letters, and notices-totaling hundreds of
pages-with the Court, requesting protection from the federal
government, surgery to have the implant removed, and
dismissal of the charges against him. In connection with
these filings, defendant repeatedly submitted to the Court a
copy of a noncontrast head CT scan, which he contends shows
the implant, notwithstanding the evidence that multiple
physicians have reviewed the scan and told him it is normal.
Defendant also made numerous requests for change of venue and
recusal; contended that Ms, Ludwig and the Assistant United
States Attorney assigned to his case, Hannah Horsley, were
part of the conspiracy against him; and filed a complaint
against me with the Ninth Circuit.
filings abruptly stopped in November 2017. Late that month,
defendant submitted a motion to withdraw his previous
filings. In that motion, he apologized for his prior filings
and in particular complaints directed at me, Ms. Ludwig, and
Ms. Horsley. He stated that he now believes that Ms. Ludwig
is "more than capable of handling his defense."
With respect to his concerns regarding "possible medical
conditions, rights violations, etc., " defendant wrote
that he "understands that those issues (although serious
to the defendant) may not be appropriately addressed with
this court during these proceedings." Finally, he stated
that he was withdrawing his Ninth Circuit complaint,
understood that competency hearings are designed to protect
the rights of the accused, and affirmed his "full
confidence in this court to fairly adjudicate this case in
after receiving that motion, the Court received a forensic
report prepared by Elizabeth A, Tyner, a clinical
psychologist who treated defendant during his
hospitalization. Dr. Tyner opined that, following his
hospitalization, defendant was competent to stand trial. Dr.
Tyner noted that defendant manifested symptoms of psychosis
in 2004 and again in 2015, periods which coincide with
methamphetamine use. Because symptoms of schizophrenia can be
similar to symptoms of methamphetamine-induced psychosis, Dr.
Tyner was unsure whether defendant's delusional beliefs
had an organic or substance-induced origin.
Tyner's report documents that, at the beginning of his
commitment, defendant wrote letters reflecting the same
government conspiracy/brain implant beliefs outlined above.
Throughout his commitment, defendant refused to consent to
the administration of antipsychotic medication. His providers
held a hearing pursuant to Washington v. Harper, 494
U.S. 210 (1990), and concluded that defendant did not present
the sort of risk to himself or others that would warrant
involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication. By
all accounts, however, defendant did well during his term of
commitment. He participated in therapy, became a unit
orderly, worked hard, and painted a mural. At the end of his
commitment, defendant told Dr. Tyner that he had realized how
"far-fetched" his beliefs had been. He represented
to her that he now believed, "with 99.9% certainty,
" that the government was not against him and
that he did not have an implant in his brain.
Tyner reported that, at the end of his hospitalization,
defendant was administered the Inventory of Legal Knowledge
("ILK"). Defendant answered every question on the
ILK correctly, a 99th percentile score. Dr. Tyner also noted
that she had assessed defendant using the MacArthur
Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication. Defendant
answered all questions correctly in the areas of
Understanding and Reasoning, but tested as having clinically
significant impairment in the area of Appreciation. Dr. Tyner
wanted to discuss the circumstances of defendant's case
in order to probe the extent of the Appreciation problems,
but defendant informed Dr. Tyner that he did not wish to
discuss the circumstances of his case or legal strategy with
anyone but his attorney, Ms. Ludwig. Defendant did, however,
agree to provide a narrow waiver of attorney-client privilege
so that Ms. Ludwig could provide Dr. Tyner (and later to the
Court) with information relevant to assessing his competency.
Ms. Ludwig told Dr. Tyner that, by the end of defendant's
hospitalization, she was able to communicate with defendant
in a "very rational" manner and that he showed the
ability to take a "logical approach to this case."
Tyner concluded her report by stating:
It is clear that the defendant demonstrated ability to
understand the nature and potential consequences of the
proceedings against him. He has gained sufficient rational
appreciation of his case and has shown that he could make
reasoned choices. He can now meaningfully assist in his
defense and speak without focusing upon his delusional
beliefs. Even though he did not disclose to me some
information that he plans to tell his attorney, there was no
indication that was based upon irrational thinking. It is my
opinion that he is currently competent to stand trial or make
other decisions regarding his case. Symptoms of his mental
illness, while perhaps still present but vastly improved by
being in either partial or full remission, do not currently
compromise his competency-related abilities.
the Court received Dr. Tyner's report, the government
filed a motion for a mental competency determination pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d) and (e). In that motion, the
government asked the Court to find defendant competent to
proceed and to set a trial date. In the alternative, the
government requested a hearing pursuant to Sell v. United
States, 539 U.S. 143 (2003), to determine whether to
authorize the involuntary administration of antipsychotic
medication to render defendant competent. The government
attached several exhibits to its motion. Those exhibits show
that, notwithstanding defendant's representations to Dr.
Tyner, he continues to believe that he is a target of a
government conspiracy and that there is an implant in his
brain. Defendant also wrote a letter to this Court, dated
February 12, 2018, manifesting those same delusional beliefs.
appeared at a second competency hearing on February 13, 2018,
Dr. Tyner testified by telephone. She reported that she had
reviewed the exhibits to the government's motion. Based
on the evidence the defendant continues to have symptoms of
psychosis, she revised her diagnosis. She stated that
defendant has psychosis/schizophrenia that is not in
remission. She believes that his psychotic symptoms have an
organic source, though they are significantly exacerbated by
methamphetamine use. Despite those changes to her opinion,
Dr. Tyner continued to believe that defendant met the legal
standard for competency. She recommended finding defendant
competent notwithstanding his persistent symptoms of
psychosis. At the hearing, Ms. Ludwig reported to the Court
that defendant continues to demonstrate a sophisticated
understanding of the charges against him and the defenses
standard of competence to stand trial is the ability to
understand the nature of the proceedings in which one is
engaged and to assist in one's defense." Spikes
v. United States,633 F.2d 144, 146 (9th Cir, 1980).
Having carefully reviewed the evidence, I find that defendant
is competent to stand trial. It is clear that defendant
continues to harbor delusions about the implant and his brain
and a government conspiracy. However, I rely on the expert
opinion of his treating providers as well as the opinion of
Ms. Ludwig in concluding that those delusions do not prevent
him from understanding the proceedings against him or to
assist in his own defense. Defendant's hospitalization
appears to have helped him achieve competency in part by
dissipating the lingering effects ...