CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION

Cite as Chuuk v. Pwechar, 15 FSM Intrm. 257 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007)

[FSM Intrm. 256]

CHUUK STATE

Plaintiff,

vs.

JEFFERSON PWECHAR,

Defendant.

CASE NO. 117-06

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUSPEND TRIAL AND SETTING DATE FOR TRIAL

Camillo Noket

Chief Justice

Hearing: July 26, 2007

Decided: July 31, 2007

APPEARANCES:

For the Plaintiff:        Francis K. Sain

                                Assistant Attorney General

                                Office of the Chuuk Attorney General

                                P.O. Box 1050

                                Weno, Chuuk   FM   96942
 

[FSM Intrm. 257]

For the Defendant:  Michael Marco

                                Office of the Public Defender

                                P.O. Box 754

                                Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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HEADNOTES

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

      No person who, as a result of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect, lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense can be tried, convicted, or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as such incapacity endures. The incapacity must be demonstrated in either of two ways: 1) by a showing that the defendant lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him, or 2) by a showing that the defendant is unable to assist in his own defense. Chuuk v. Pwechar, 15 FSM Intrm. 256, 258 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Insanity

       When the medical report does not present any evidence that the defendant lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him as the result of physical or mental incapacity, but rather states that he does understand the proceedings against him, and when the medical report does not present any evidence that the defendant lacks the capacity to assist in his own defense, the court will deny a motion to suspend trial due to the defendant’s incapacity but will not preclude the submission of additional evidence at trial of the defendant’s mental and physical capacity as it relates either to the requisite intent required to prove the charges against him or to his fitness to stand trial. Chuuk v. Pwechar, 15 FSM Intrm. 256, 258 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

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COURT’S OPINION

CAMILLO NOKET, Chief Justice:

Introduction

       The Court raised by its own motion the issue of whether the proceedings against Defendant Jefferson Pwechar should be suspended pursuant to  Chk. S.L. No. 6-66, § 304 based on the findings in a medical report prepared by a Chuuk State Health Services examiner immediately after Jefferson Pwechar’s arrest on October 23, 2006. Hearing was held on July 26, 2007. Defendant appeared in person with counsel. Government counsel was also present. The Court denies the motion finding insufficient evidence in the medical report that, as a result of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect, Jefferson Pwechar lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense.

Background

       This case involves two Counts against Jefferson Pwechar of aggravated assault and assault with a dangerous weapon for an incident allegedly occurring on October 23, 2006. Upon his arrest on the same date, Jefferson Pwechar was referred by the Chuuk State Supreme Court to Chuuk State Health Services to assess his mental fitness to understand his acts and his fitness to proceed with trial. The Chuuk State Health Services report, also dated October 23, 2006, concluded that Jefferson Pwechar

[15 FSM Intrm 258]

had physical disfigurement, possible physical disability, and displayed anti-social behavior. Otherwise, according to the report, Jefferson Pwechar was mentally aware, understood the charges against him, and understood the nature of the proceedings against him.

The Law

       The sole issue before the Court is whether Jefferson Pwechar is incapacitated to the extent that the proceedings against him should be suspended. Chk. S.L. No. 6-66, § 304(1) states: "No person who, as a result of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect, lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense shall be tried, convicted, or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as such incapacity endures." Therefore, in order for the Court to suspend these proceedings pursuant to Chk. S.L. No. 6-66, § 304(1), incapacity must be demonstrated in either of two ways:

1.  by a showing that the defendant lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him, or

2.  by a showing that the defendant is unable to assist in his own defense.

Findings

      The medical report prepared by Chuuk State Health Services states that Jefferson Pwechar suffers from physical disfigurement, may have some physical disability and that he displays anti-social behavior. The medical report does not present any evidence that Jefferson Pwechar lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him as the result of physical or mental incapacity. Rather, the report states that he does understand the proceedings against him. The medical report also does not present any evidence that Jefferson Pwechar lacks the capacity to assist in his own defense.

Conclusion

      The Court denies the motion to suspend trial due to incapacity of the Defendant. The Court does not, however, preclude by this Order the submission of additional evidence at trial of Jefferson Pwechar’s mental and physical capacity as it relates either to the requisite intent required to prove the charges against him, pursuant to Chk. S.L. No. 6-66, § 303, or to his fitness to stand trial, pursuant to Chk. S.L. No. 6-66, § 304.

      The court hereby set the trial on the merit of this case for October 17, 2007 at 9:00 am.

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