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United States v. Zaki

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

March 6, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Scott Zaki, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on the Government’s Motion for Hearing On and Determination of Defendant’s Mental Competency. The Court conducted a competency hearing on March 5, 2015. Brandon M. Bolling (“Mr. Bolling”) appeared for the Government. Defendant Scott Zaki (“Zaki”), was represented by Henry M. Scharg (“Mr. Scharg”).

In support of his motion, Mr. Bolling submitted the report of Dr. Jeffrey Wendt (“Dr. Wendt”), Psy. D., an independent forensic psychologist. Zaki presented on his own behalf and entered into evidence three incident reports from prison and part of the federal complaint filed against him.

II. BACKGROUND

Zaki is charged in a superseding indictment with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 846.

On July 28, 2014, Zaki’s attorney, Sanford A. Schulman (“Schulman”), filed a motion for a psychological evaluation under 18 U.S.C. §4241 and §4247. Schulman requested the evaluation for the limited purpose of determining whether Zaki is competent to assist in his own defense. On August 4, 2014, the Court ordered that Zaki be evaluated by an expert; Dr. Wendt was appointed.

Zaki filed numerous papers with the Court and several requests for new counsel, resulting in a delay of proceedings. He has also sought recusal of the Court. On October 30, 2014, the Government made an oral motion for the Court to determine Zaki’s competency which the Court granted on the same day.

A third attorney was appointed to represent Mr. Zaki on November 19, 2014.

Dr. Wendt met with Zaki on September 5, 2014 and January 13, 2015 to evaluate Zaki’s competence. In a detailed report dated February 2, 2015, Dr. Wendt opined that Zaki is incompetent to stand trial.

III. ANALYSIS

At the competency hearing, “the person whose mental condition is the subject of the hearing shall be represented by counsel and . . . [t]he person shall be afforded an opportunity to testify, to present evidence, to subpoena witnesses on his behalf, and to confront and cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing. 18 U.S.C. §4247(d).

After a competency hearing, the court must, based on a “preponderance of the evidence, ” make a determination as to the defendant’s competency to stand trial. 18 U.S.C. §4241(d). The court’s determination is reviewable on appeal by a “clearly erroneous” standard. U.S. v. Ford, 184 F.3d 566, 581 (6th Cir. 1999); U.S. v. Cook, 356 F.3d 913 (8th Cir. 2004).

To be competent, a defendant must have “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.” Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402 (1960). “A criminal defendant may ...


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