United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S
COMPETENCY TO STAND TRIAL
A. GOLDSMITH United States District
issue of Defendant's competency to stand trial is before
the Court. A hearing was held at Defendant's nursing home
on November 13, 2017, at which time Defendant was questioned
by the Court. For the reasons that follow, the Court
concludes that Defendant is not competent to stand trial.
Victor Reyes is charged with sixteen counts of Unlawful
Distribution of Controlled Substances, 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1), and one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and
Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, 21
U.S.C. § 846. See First Superseding Indictment
(Dkt. 30). The Government alleges that Dr. Reyes operated a
solo practice which had “a fundamental purpose”
of writing unnecessary prescriptions so that those
prescriptions could be abused or sold on the illegal street
market. Id. ¶¶ 2-3. Dr. Reyes primarily
prescribed oxycodone, amphetamine salts, hydrocodone
bitartrate/acetaminophen, and alprazolam, at a price of $300
per patient. Id. ¶¶ 4, 6. The Government
alleges that Dr. Reyes wrote more than 10, 000 prescriptions
for controlled substances, totaling more than 700, 000 unit
dosages. Id. ¶ 9. Based on these allegations,
the Government charged Dr. Reyes with sixteen counts of
Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances, claiming that
he knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully distributed
controlled substances by writing prescriptions outside the
scope of usual professional medical practice and for no
legitimate medical purpose. Id. ¶ 10. Dr. Reyes
is also charged with conspiracy to commit the same crimes.
Dr. Reyes has been diagnosed with dementia, as well as
several other conditions, the Government filed an unopposed
motion requesting a competency exam, see Mot. for
Comp. Hearing (Dkt. 21), which the Court granted,
see Order Granting Comp. Hearing (Dkt. 23).
is well established that the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the criminal prosecution of a
defendant who is not competent to stand trial.”
Medina v. California, 505 U.S. 437, 439 (1992),
citing Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162 (1975) and
Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 375 (1966). When
considering whether a defendant is competent to stand trial,
district courts consider two factors: whether the defendant
“has sufficient present ability to consult with his
lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding” and whether the defendant “has a
rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings
against him.” United States v. Murphy, 107
F.3d 1199, 1203 (6th Cir. 1997), quoting Dusky v. United
States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960).
Government argues that Dr. Reyes is competent to stand trial.
At the November 13 hearing, the Government referenced the
psychiatric examination by Dr. Craig Lemmen, memorialized in
a report dated September 3, 2017. In his report, Dr. Lemmen
opined that Dr. Reyes understood that he was being charged
with writing too many prescriptions. 9/3/17 Eval. at 4. Dr.
Reyes further understood that he was charged with writing
those prescriptions in his home and in various restaurants,
which is consistent with the Government's theory of the
case. Id. The report recites that Dr. Reyes defended
his actions, which the Government argues shows that he
understands the nature of these proceedings. Id. The
report states that Dr. Reyes acknowledged that he faced jail
time and that he understood his rights. Id.
Regarding the ability to consult with an attorney, the report
states that Dr. Reyes' remote memory is intact, and that
his responses were responsive to questions asked.
Id. at 3.
defense argues that Dr. Reyes is not competent to stand
trial. Referencing the same report, the defense noted Dr.
Lemmen's view that Dr. Reyes' memory and
concentration were very poor. Dr. Reyes reported that most of
the time he is confused and just follows recommendations.
9/3/17 Eval. at 4. Dr. Lemmen noted that Dr. Reyes is having
intermittent difficulties with disorientation, which are
becoming more frequent, and that he is getting confused more
often, causing him to say things that do not make sense.
Id. at 5. For these reasons, Dr. Lemmen concluded
that there “may be periods of time when Dr. Reyes is
sufficiently disoriented that he would not be considered
competent to stand trial.” Id. The defense has
also pointed out that medical personnel at the facility at
which Dr. Reyes lives considers him to be incompetent to
assist in his own treatment; medical decisions are made by
objection, the Court asked Dr. Reyes some questions at the
hearing. Dr. Reyes stated that he understood that a lawyer
was representing him, and also recognized the role of a
judge. The answers were not consistently lucid, however, as
Dr. Reyes could not answer what his lawyer was representing
him for, and he also claimed to not understand that he was
facing criminal charges. Some questions had to be repeated
several times and rephrased to obtain even feeble answers.
Court concludes that Dr. Reyes is not competent to stand
trial. Although Dr. Lemmen opined that Dr. Reyes understood
the nature of the proceedings, the Court concludes otherwise.
less than lucid answers at the hearing, his vacant look, and
significant hesitation in answering relatively simple
questions leave the Court with the definite conviction that
he does not sufficiently understand the nature of these
addition, he appears to lack basic memory and communication
skills. This fatally undermines his ability to defend
himself, as he lacks “sufficient present ability to
consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding.” Murphy, 107 F.3d at 1203.
he were to have moments of competency during the trial, there
is no way to determine when, and how often, he might
temporarily attain the necessary mental state. Thus, the
Government's suggestion that his condition could be