United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
J. Lodge United States District Judge.
pending before the Court are: (1) competency evaluation
proceedings pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241(c), (d)
and 18 U.S.C. § 4247(d) and (2) defense counsel's
oral motion to withdraw. For the reasons set forth below and
consistent with the Court's oral ruling at the August 2,
2018 hearing in the above-entitled matter, (1) defense
counsel's motion is denied and (2) the Court finds the
Defendant is competent to proceed.
February 6, 2018, on the day set for his trial, Mr.
Sanchez-Espinosa plead guilty to conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute methamphetamine. (Dkt. 1.) On March 15,
2018, defense counsel filed a Motion for Competency Hearing.
(Dkt. 105.) The defense requested the Court order the
defendant's commitment to a federal facility for the
purpose of a psychiatric or psychological evaluation to
address competency concerns pursuant to U.S.C.
§§4241(b) and 4247.
March 23, 2018, the Court granted the motion and ordered a
competency examination to be completed by the Bureau of
Prisons. (Dkt. 109.) Consistent with the Court's Order,
Defendant was committed to the Federal Detention Center,
SeaTac, Washington and a forensic evaluation to determine his
mental capacity was conducted. (Dkt. 119.)
18, 2018, the Court and counsel received a Forensic
Evaluation completed by Dr. Ryan Nybo, Psy.D, Forensic Unit
Psychologist. (Dkt. 119.) Dr. Nybo reviewed certain legal
documents and medical records, interviewed and observed Mr.
Sanchez-Espinosa, and conducted a 30-minute phone call with
defense counsel to discuss counsel's concerns regarding
his client's mental health. (Id.) Ultimately,
Dr. Nybo concluded that Mr. Sanchez-Espinosa is not currently
suffering from any diagnosable conditions. (Id.).
More specifically, Dr. Nybo concluded that Mr.
Sanchez-Espinosa does not exhibit any acute emotional or
mental symptoms with the intensity or duration necessary to
meet the DSM-5 criteria for diagnosis. (Id.)
Further, he does not appear to suffer from any major mood
disturbances, significant cognitive disturbances, a formal
thought disorder, or a trauma related disorder.
August 2, 2018, at the time set for the competency hearing in
this case, defense counsel made an oral motion to withdraw as
counsel of record and asked for the Court to conduct ex
parte proceedings to discuss an alleged conflict between
defense counsel and the Defendant. The Court engaged in an
ex parte hearing and heard from defense counsel and
the Defendant outside the presence of counsel for the
hearing, the Court denied defense counsel's motion to
withdraw and proceeded to the competency evaluation finding
Defendant competent to proceed to sentencing. The following
analysis further supports the Court's oral ruling.
court's decision to release counsel is an exercise of its
discretion. United States v. Williams, 717 F.2d 473
(9th Cir. 1983) (citing Glavin v. United States, 396
F.2d 725, 726 (9th Cir. 1968)). Local Criminal Rule 44.1(b)
states that “[a]n attorney who has appeared for a
defendant may thereafter withdraw only upon notice to the
defendant and all parties to the case and after order of the
court finding good cause exists and granting leave to
withdraw.” When reviewing a trial court's decision
on a motion to withdraw, the Ninth Circuit considers three
factors: (1) the adequacy of the Court's inquiry; (2) the
extent of the conflict between the defendant and his counsel;
and (3) the timeliness of the motion and any inconvenience or
delay that would result from the granting the motion. See
United States v. Corona-Garcia, 210 F.3d 973, 976 (9th
juncture in the proceedings and based on the record before
the Court at this time, the Court does not find good cause
for defense counsel's motion to withdraw. First, the
Court is satisfied with the adequacy of its ex parte
inquiry. Second, the conflict between client and counsel
appears to be limited to a difference in opinion regarding
whether to contest the competency evaluation from the Bureau
of Prisons or proceed to sentencing. Third, the timing of the
motion to withdraw is unusual in that Defendant has already
entered his plea and any delays associated with a motion to
withdraw will simply delay the time set for sentencing.
Accordingly, the Court does not find good cause to delay
these proceedings any further by granting the motion to
withdraw before resolving the competency proceedings before
has made his position clear: he chose to enter a plea and
would like to proceed with sentencing as soon as possible.
The Court has had opportunity to observe the Defendant and
consider the clarity of his thoughts and his perspective. In
addition, the Court has the benefit of the forensic
evaluation from the Federal Detention Center and Dr.
Nybo's professional opinion. (Dkt. 119.)
on the record before it, the Court adopts the Forensic
Evaluation (Dkt. 119) and finds, based on that Evaluation,
that Mr. Sanchez-Espinosa is competent. More specifically,
Mr. Sanchez-Espinosa does not suffer from a mental disorder
that would substantially interfere with his present ability
to understand the nature and consequences of the court
proceedings brought against him or substantially impair his
ability to assist counsel in his defense. Rather, he has
demonstrated a sufficient ability to understand the nature
and consequences of ...