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United States v. Gillenwater

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 11, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHARLES LEE GILLENWATER, II, AKA Charles Lee Gillenwater, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington December 4, 2013

Petition for certiorari filed at, 07/01/2014

Page 1095

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1096

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. 2:11-cr-00121-RMP-1. Rosanna Malouf Peterson, Chief District Judge, Presiding. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. 2:11-cr-00121-LRS-1. Lonny R. Suko, District Judge, Presiding.

Frank L. Cikutovich (argued), Stiley & Cikutovich, PLLC, Spokane, Washington, for Defendant-Appellant.

Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney, and Timothy J. Ohms (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, Spokane, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Sandra Day O'Connor, Associate Justice (Ret.),[*] and Richard C. Tallman and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1097

O'CONNOR, Associate Justice (Ret.)

Defendant Charles Lee Gillenwater, II, was charged with two counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications and one count of transmitting threatening communications by United States mail. After determining that Gillenwater was not competent to stand trial, the district court authorized the government to medicate Gillenwater involuntarily to render him competent to face the charges against him. While recognizing the important interests at stake for both the government

Page 1098

and Gillenwater, we conclude that the district court did not err in authorizing Gillenwater's involuntary medication.

I

Gillenwater once worked on the renovation of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gillenwater believes that he and thousands of others were exposed to asbestos during that renovation. He also believes that the government allowed the exposure to occur and helped the hotel cover it up. And Gillenwater believes that government and hotel officials came after him when he tried to reveal the exposure and cover up.

In November 2011, Gillenwater was charged with two counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), and one count of transmitting threatening communications by United States mail, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c).

In the proceedings that followed, the government claimed that Gillenwater made graphic and disturbing threats against a number of government officials and employees and showed a possible intent and ability to carry them out. According to the government, Gillenwater came to the attention of federal authorities in July 2010, when an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) employee reported receiving a threatening email from Gillenwater. Among other things, the email stated: " Violence is my primary means of communication and it usually takes the form of me choking somebody while screaming 'CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW[?]'" ER 217-18.

Federal agents went to Gillenwater's house to speak with him about the email. He met them with a gun in hand. But Gillenwater ultimately put the gun away and spoke with the agents. The agents warned him to refrain from sending threatening emails as it was illegal and could result in his arrest and prosecution. According to the government, Gillenwater acknowledged his understanding.

The government claimed that Gillenwater was back at it two days later. He allegedly sent an email to Department of Labor (DOL) employees, which, among other things, advised them to " [l]ive in fear" and asked them " [d]o you really want to be between me and my enemy?" Id. at 218. From there, the situation continued to escalate. According to the government, the volume and content of Gillenwater's emails eventually prompted DOL to block his email address. And Gillenwater allegedly did not limit himself to sending threatening emails to OSHA and DOL employees. The government claimed that he also sent threatening emails to Senators and federal agents. The emails said things like:

o " What is justice here? Should I slice his wife and children open? What are your thoughts on this matter?" Id. at 222.
o " You and all your little friends, I'll pick you off one at a time." Id. at 223.
o " They may think they're free, but their heads are in a noose and the trap is about to be tripped. My friends are more ...

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