Posted: February 20, 2020

Judge Johnson Dismisses Indictment Against Incompetent Defendant After Rejecting Government’s Request To Involuntarily Medicate Defendant

Posted by Solomon N. Klein, Litigation Partner

In a short but emphatic ruling, Judge Sterling Johnson put an end to a criminal case against an incompetent defendant after rejecting the government’s request to forcibly medicate defendant to restore his competency. United States v. Kendall, 18 CR 532 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 11, 2020) (SJ).

Defendant was apprehended at JFK Airport and indicted after authorities allegedly discovered that defendant had over 100 pellets of cocaine in his digestive tract. However, two competency evaluations determined that defendant was not competent to stand trial. The government, in turn, requested that defendant be involuntarily medicated to restore his competency. The Court rejected the government’s request and dismissed the indictment.

The government faces a heavy burden when seeking the involuntary administration of medication to a nonviolent pretrial detainee for the sole purpose of attempting to restore competency to stand trial. First, there must be an “important governmental interest at stake.” United States v. Sell, 539 U.S 166, 180 (2003) (emphasis in original). “That is so whenever the offense is a serious crime against a person or serious crime against property.” Id. While the government argues that Kendall’s crime is serious enough to warrant forcible medication, the Court disagrees. Moreover, Kendall has already been incarcerated for 17 months. According to Butner, the process of attempting to restore his competence would take several more months. Finally, as a citizen of Guyana, Kendall is subject to deportation. Under these circumstances, the Court finds that it is neither equitable nor a proper use of financial resources to keep him in custody any further.

Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment is granted.

United States v. Kendall, 18 CR 532 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 11, 2020) (SJ).

Posted by Solomon N. Klein, Litigation Partner

Posted in EDNY
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