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State v. Hanson

October 25, 2010

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MATTHEW W. HANSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Elmore County. Hon. Michael E. Wetherell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Walters, Judge Pro Tem

2010 Opinion No. 69

Judgment of conviction and unified sentence of five years, with a minimum period of confinement of three years, for aggravated assault, affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded; order denying I.C.R. 35 motion for reduction of sentence, vacated.

Matthew W. Hanson appeals from his judgment of conviction and unified sentence of five years, with a minimum period of confinement of three years, for aggravated assault. Hanson also appeals from the district court's order denying his I.C.R. 35 motion to reconsider his sentence. Specifically, Hanson challenges the district court's refusal to grant psychological and competency evaluations prior to imposing sentence. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and vacate in part Hanson's judgment of conviction and vacate the district court's order denying Hanson's Rule 35 motion. Hanson's case is remanded for resentencing.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

During a conversation at a bar, Hanson pulled two hunting knives on a man and threatened to kill him. Hanson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. I.C. §§ 18-901 and 18-905(b). The Elmore County Jail log reveals that, while Hanson was incarcerated awaiting trial, he exhibited erratic and volatile behavior. On each of ten days, from July 19-29, 2007, Hanson refused to eat at least one and oftentimes all of his meals. Hanson stated that he was on a hunger strike because the people serving him food had bad attitudes. On July 19, jail staff installed a camera in Hanson's cell so they could observe him better. On July 21, jail staff requested Hanson undergo a mental evaluation, but Hanson refused to participate. On July 23, after rising from bed, Hanson was seen swaying in his cell. He fell twice, presumably from lack of food. On July 24, Hanson was transported to the hospital and thereafter began taking an unspecified medication.

On August 10, Hanson requested that all his food be passed to him through the bean slot because he required that his door remain closed at all times. When jail staff refused to comply with his request, Hanson threw his tray against his cell door spraying food around his cell and into the hallway beyond. For twelve days, from August 10-22, Hanson again refused at least one and often all of his meals. On August 20 Hanson returned his bed sheet with a message written on it with dirt. On August 22, after twelve days without food, Hanson again refused medical treatment. On August 24, Hanson called jail personnel complaining that his cell was too hot and threatened that, if the ventilation was not turned on, he would smear feces all over his cell. Hanson's erratic behavior continued from September 2007 to March 2008. Hanson refused daily recreation sixty-seven times, and was often unresponsive to jail authorities. The jail log reveals that after days without incident, Hanson would suddenly become abusive, make threats to jail personnel, throw his food on the floor, and trash his cell.

After a jury trial, Hanson was found guilty of aggravated assault. Several sentencing hearings were held in Hanson's case. At the first sentencing hearing, Hanson informed the district court that he would exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and would not participate in a presentence investigation report (PSI). Despite Hanson's lack of participation, a PSI was prepared that included his criminal history, his Elmore County Jail log, and a 1982 PSI and inmate records that were obtained from the Utah Department of Corrections. The Utah PSI revealed that Hanson had a history of psychological problems including a childhood history of bullying other children and torturing animals, a juvenile psychological evaluation and treatment by an Idaho mental hospital, and several failed suicide attempts.

At the second sentencing hearing, Hanson requested that the district court order a psychological evaluation pursuant to I.C. § 19-2522. The district court denied Hanson's request for a psychological evaluation, reasoning that Hanson could not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination with regard to the PSI and subsequently waive that right so as to participate in a psychological evaluation. The district court further reasoned that a psychological evaluation was not necessary because it did not believe that the additional information provided by a psychological evaluation would be helpful at sentencing.

During the third sentencing hearing, Hanson's counsel requested that Hanson undergo a competency evaluation pursuant to I.C. § 18-210 because of counsel's difficulty communicating with his client and because of Hanson's refusal to participate in the PSI. The district court denied the request for a competency evaluation, reasoning that Hanson had demonstrated that he understood the proceedings against him and was able to assist in his own defense.

The district court sentenced Hanson to a unified term of five years, with a minimum period of confinement of three years. The district court also ordered that Hanson undergo a psychological evaluation and treatment, as well as anger management and therapeutic community programs while incarcerated in the state penitentiary. Based on the district court's imposition of a sentence without ordering competency or psychological evaluations, Hanson filed a motion to reconsider his sentence. The district court denied Hanson's motion. Hanson appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

The decision to order a competency evaluation under I.C. § 18-210 and a psychological evaluation under I.C. § 19-2522 is left to the discretion of the trial court. When a trial court's discretionary decision is reviewed on appeal, the appellate court conducts a multi-tiered inquiry to determine: (1) whether the lower court correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) whether the lower court acted within the boundaries of such discretion and consistently with any legal standards applicable to the specific choices before it; and ...


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