KOSRAE STATE COURT TRIAL DIVISION

Cite as Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006)

[14 FSN Intrm. 470]

STATE OF KOSRAE,

Plaintiff,

vs.

HARRY M. CHARLEY,

Defendant.

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 14-05

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS AND

SCHEDULING HEARING ON FITNESS TO PROCEED

Aliksa B. Aliksa

Chief Justice

Hearing: October 16, 2006

Decided: October 18, 2006

APPEARANCES:

For the Plaintiff:        J.D. Lee, Esq.

                                 Attorney General

                                 Office of the Kosrae Attorney General

                                 P.O. Box 870

                                 Tofol, Kosrae   FM   96944

 

For the Defendant:   Harry A. Seymour, Esq.

                                 Office of the Public Defender

                                 P.O. Box 245

                                 Tofol, Kosrae   FM   96944

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HEADNOTES

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

    Under Kosrae State Code § 13.104(2)(d), when the defendant is acquitted on the ground of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect excluding responsibility, the verdict and the judgment

[14 FSM Intrm. 471]

should so state, which means when an acquittal based on this affirmative defense is made following a trial. Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470, 471-72 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

    Because the need for the affirmative defense of insanity arises only if the state proves all elements, including intent, beyond a reasonable doubt, the affirmative defense is not capable of determination without a trial. Therefore a pretrial motion to dismiss a prosecution on the ground that the defendant is insane will be denied as premature and a final determination on the affirmative defense will be deferred until trial. Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470, 472 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

    The affirmative defense of insanity is a different issue than the defendant’s current capacity to understand the proceedings and participate in trial. Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470, 472 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

    A defendant is presumed competent, but when genuine and serious concerns about his mental condition have been raised, the court will order a hearing held to determine if, due to physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect, the defendant lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense. Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470, 472 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006).

Bail; Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

    When the medical evaluations in the file offer no assurance of safety to the defendant or to the person or property of others, the court will consider evidence of his dangerousness to himself and to the person or property of another at a hearing on fitness to proceed, and pending that hearing the defendant will remain in custody as previously ordered. Kosrae v. Charley, 14 FSM Intrm. 470, 473 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2006).

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COURT’S OPINION

ALIKSA B. ALIKSA, Chief Justice:

    Defendant Harry M. Charley, represented by Harry Seymour, filed a Motion to Dismiss the criminal charges against him on September 22, 2006. He argues that the medical opinions in file show Defendant lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to control his impulse to commit it. And, the Court must dismiss the charges because Defendant is not legally responsible under Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2). The State of Kosrae, represented by Attorney General J.D. Lee, opposes dismissal as premature and argues that Defendant lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him. It cites subsection (g) of § 13.104(2) and argues that the remedy for this is to suspend the proceedings and have Defendant committed for a set time to determine if his capacity to understand the proceedings can be restored.

    A hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss was held on October 16, 2006 where both counsel presented argument. Defendant Harry M. Charley was present and Arthy Nena, Director of Health Services for the State of Kosrae, testified on behalf of the State.

    Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is based on Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2). Subsection (c) states: "physical or mental disease,

[14 FSM Intrm. 472]

disorder, or defect excluding responsibility is an affirmative defense." Subsection (d) states: "When the defendant is acquitted on the ground of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect excluding responsibility, the verdict and the judgment so state." At the hearing, Defendant proposed that this affirmative defense is capable of determination without the trial of the general issue and may be addressed by pre-trial motion under Rule 12(b) of Kosrae’s Rules of Criminal Procedure. However, Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2)(d) states that the verdict and judgment address acquittal based on this affirmative defense. "Verdict" refers to the finding made by a jury following a trial. Therefore, the use of the phrase "verdict and judgment" suggests that an acquittal based on this affirmative defense is made following a trial.

   Runmar v. FSM, 3 FSM Intrm. 308 (App. 1988) gives useful guidance on this point. Runmar presented the first case where the appellate division of the FSM Supreme Court addressed nonculpability for criminal conduct on the ground that the conduct was a result of mental disease, disorder or defect of the defendant. In that case, a defendant was charged with murder. Under the applicable FSM statutes, the Court determined that manslaughter was a lesser-included offense within the charge of murder. At trial the defendant raised the defense of insanity.

    The Court analyzed the defense and noted "an apparent relationship" between the mental condition of a person and whether the person acted with the required intent when committing murder. It upheld the constitutionality of placing the burden of proof upon a defendant who asserts mental disease as a defense and explained that: "The requisite intention for murder may exist in one who has a mental disease, disorder or defect . . . and the absence of such a mental disease, disorder or defect is not essential to proof of intentional or knowing misconduct." 3 FSM Intrm. at 313. The Court also remanded the case for the trial court to give specific consideration to the possibility of manslaughter and make specific findings why there was a finding of guilt for murder rather than manslaughter, based on the evidence about defendant’s intent.

     Runmar recognizes that there is a relationship between the element of intent and an affirmative defense based on lack of mental capacity. It correctly noted that "Only because those basic elements of the crime were proved beyond a reasonable doubt was it necessary for the defendant to try to establish that his mental condition was such that he should not be held responsible." 3 FSM Intrm. at 312. Because the need for the affirmative defense arises only if the state proves all elements, including intent, beyond a reasonable doubt, the affirmative defense is not capable of determination without the trial. Based on the language of Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2)(d) and the reasoning in Runmar, this Court will deny the Motion as premature and defer a final determination on the affirmative defense until trial.

    The affirmative defense is a different issue than Defendant’s current capacity to understand the proceedings and participate in trial raised by the State. The affirmative defense looks at Defendant’s mental capacity at the time the crimes were committed. Defendant’s current mental capacity to understand proceedings looks at whether a trial can be held. Defendant raises genuine and serious concerns about his mental condition and need for treatment based on the existing medical evaluations, but does not address his current ability to understand the proceedings or to make his defense.

    These medical evaluations give reasonable grounds to believe Defendant might be incapable of understanding the proceedings or making his defense. He is presumed competent, but raises genuine and serious concerns about his mental condition. Therefore, the Court is ordering a hearing be held to determine if defendant lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense, due to physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect. This hearing will address an initial determination of Defendant’s fitness to proceed under Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2)(g). Defendant did not request this hearing, but it may be that Defendant also lacks the capacity to waive his right to a hearing on this issue. Therefore, to protect his procedural due process rights, the hearing is ordered on the Court’s motion.

[14 FSM Intrm. 473]

    Director Arthy Nena testified that the State currently has a contract to receive psychiatric services through Health Services. He also testified that a facility suitable for housing Defendant is expected to be available, either by the end of the year or within ninety days. Counsel for the State and Defendant are to confer and make use of these services and facilities to arrange for an evaluation of Defendant’s current fitness to proceed within a reasonable period of time, consistent with Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2)(g).

    Defendant acknowledges that the medical evaluations in file offer no assurance of safety to the Defendant, or to the person or property of others. The Court will consider evidence of his dangerousness to himself and to the person or property of another, at the hearing on fitness to proceed, again consistent with Kos. S.C. § 13.104(2)(g). Pending that hearing Defendant remains in custody as previously ordered.

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