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United States v. Bisla

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 23, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GURMEET BISLA, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

ORDER RE COMPETENCY STATEMENT OF DECISION AND EXAMINATION

On November 5, 9, and 12, 2010, the above-captioned case came on for a mental competency hearing before the Court. At that time the Defendant was personally present and was represented by his attorneys, Woodrow E. Nichols, Jr., and Mario DiSalvo. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar.

Testimony was taken from two qualified and competent mental health professionals, both of whom have previously testified in this Court: Dr. A.A. Howsepian, M.D., Ph.D., retained by the government, and Dr. Howard Terrell, M.D., Board Certified Forensic Psychiatrist, retained by the Defendant. These witnesses are competent and testified in good faith. They gave diametrically opposed, contradictory and conflicting medical opinions as to Defendant's mental competency. Dr. Howsepian opined that Defendant was malingering and was mentally competent at all relevant times. Dr. Terrell opined that Defendant suffers from psycho affective disorder and was mentally incompetent at relevant times.

There is no question about Defendant's commission of the crime. No insanity defense was raised and no basis for a finding of insanity was claimed or presented. Dr. Terrell opined Bisla does not meet the legal standard for insanity. Question has been raised as to the competency of the Defendant at three different time periods: 1) Is the Defendant mentally competent to be sentenced at this present time and does he know and understand the sentencing process? 2) Was the Defendant competent pre-trial when former counsel, Mr. Litman, represented him, to make an informed decision about the plea offer and whether to accept it or not? 3) Was Mr. Bisla mentally competent during trial to understand the proceedings and assist in his own defense?

Due to the experts' conflicting opinions, probable cause has been established to question the mental competency of the Defendant. An independent mental examination is required, based on conflicting evidence, and the evidence on one side is sufficient to create reasonable cause to believe that the Defendant may be presently suffering from a mental disease or a defect rendering him mentally incompetent to understand the nature of the sentencing proceedings that are pending against him. This dispute cannot be resolved without expert mental health professional assistance.

IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Gurmeet Bisla is committed to the custody of the Attorney General to be examined, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 4241, to be treated in a suitable facility for a reasonable time, not to exceed four months as is necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future, the Defendant will attain the capacity to permit the sentencing proceedings to go forward; and if required for an additional period of time until his mental condition is so improved, that sentencing may proceed;

FURTHER ORDERED, if it is possible, that Defendant be examined to determine whether he was mentally incompetent at the time when Mr. Litman represented him to make an informed decision about the plea offer and whether to accept it or not;

FURTHER ORDERED, if possible, that the Defendant be examined to determine whether he was mentally competent during trial when Mr. Litman represented him;

FURTHER ORDERED that the director of the facility in which Defendant is hospitalized submit a psychiatric or psychological report to the Court, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Sections 4241(b) and 4247(b) and (c), regarding the Defendant's mental competency on or before February 23, 2011; and

FURTHER ORDERED that, upon examination of the Defendant, should the Defendant require psychiatric or medical treatment, such treatment shall commence immediately for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed four months.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20101123

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