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United States v. Magnolia

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 7, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Imani Magnolia, also known as Marlene Frances Rodriguez Castelluccio, Defendant.


          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         Defendant Imani Magnolia suffers from a delusional disorder that renders her not competent to stand trial. The government seeks to administer antipsychotic drugs in order to restore her to competency, but she refuses medication. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on October 23, 2018, to determine whether Defendant should be involuntarily medicated under the principles of Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). Doc. 145. Having considered the relevant evidence and case law, the Court finds that the government has not shown that Defendant should be medicated against her will.

         I. Background.

         Defendant has been indicted on three counts of filing false liens against federal employees and one count of conspiracy to do the same in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1521. Doc. 14. As discussed below, the charges are based on Defendant's filing of liens on the real property of three postal workers. Doc. 2 at 6.

         On November 17, 2016, Defendant and her brother (the co-defendant in this case) went to Camping World RV Sales in Bellmont, Arizona, to buy a motor home and trailer for approximately $330, 000. Id. at 3-4. They attempted to pay with a “promissory note” they had created. Id. at 4. The note contained Defendant's social security number, purporting to be an account number, and claimed to draw on the account of Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Id. Camping World and Chase Bank refused to accept the note as payment. Id.

         Defendant and her brother then attempted to use the promissory note to obtain money orders from the post office, but were declined. Id. at 5. They continued to visit the post office and were denied services because they would not present valid identification. Id. at 6.

         In mid-December 2016, three postal employees received electronic invoices in the amount of $34, 098, 000 from trusts created by Defendant. Id. at 7. On December 28, 2016, Defendant filed a 15-page document with the Coconino County Recorder's Office which placed liens on the real property of the three postal workers and others who are not federal employees. Id. The liens purported to secure the amounts Defendant claimed to be owed by these individuals. Id.

         Defendant and her brother were arrested in January 2017. Docs. 24-25. Defendant's brother later pled guilty to count one of the indictment and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Docs. 48-50, 86. At her attorney's request, Defendant was evaluated for competency by clinical psychologist John Walker, who found that she was suffering from a delusional disorder, mixed type. Doc. 55-2. During the evaluation, Defendant stated her beliefs that the United States is a corporation which operates under a term of international bankruptcy and anyone “in the higher level of intelligence” would know this, and that she is a “secured party creditor” of the United States and “a bonded official [with] an oath to syntax and structure.” Id. at 2. She further stated that the sovereign citizens movement she is alleged to follow consists of “intelligent people who know what's going on, ” and the government wants to “suppress people who know things.” Id. With respect to the charges against her, Defendant claimed that “God placed [the] false liens . . . and it's God's intent.” Id. Given the severity of her delusional thinking, Dr. Walker concluded that Defendant was not competent to stand trial. Id. at 4.

         The Court held a competency hearing on July 11, 2017. Doc. 60. The government argued that Defendant's sovereign citizen views do not render her clinically delusional. Dr. Walker testified that Defendant's delusional beliefs go beyond those of a typical member of the sovereign citizens movement, noting that Defendant stated during her evaluation that she is an empress, her brother is heir to the throne of Babylon, and the undersigned judge answers to the Queen of England. Doc. 63 at 1-2; see Doc. 55-2 at 2-4. The Court found Defendant not competent to stand trial and committed her to the custody of the Attorney General to determine whether she could be restored to competency pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). Doc. 63 at 2.

         Defendant was transferred to the Bureau of Prisons' Federal Medical Center (“FMC”) at Carswell, Texas, and evaluated by forensic psychologist Amor Correa. Doc. 95. Dr. Correa diagnosed Defendant with delusional disorder, grandiose and persecutory type. Id. at 12. The diagnosis was based in part on Defendant's firmly held beliefs about vast government conspiracies and that she is a trustee, ambassador, postmaster, notary, and judge for her own nation. Id. at 9-12. Dr. Correa concluded that Defendant was not competent to stand trial, but that further treatment, including psychotropic medication, might restore her competency. Id. at 12. Dr. Correa requested that Defendant stay at Carswell so staff could encourage her to take medication. Id.

         On December 22, 2017, FMC staff psychiatrist Gary Etter prepared a psychiatric treatment proposal in which he recommended involuntary medication in the form of injectable antipsychotic drugs. Ex. 4(d).[1] An administrative hearing was held on January 4, 2018. Ex. 4(b). Drs. Etter and Correa presented the case for involuntary medication to FMC psychiatrist Jose Silvas, who approved the proposed treatment. Id. Defendant's administrative appeal was denied. Exs. 4(f)-(h).

         After receiving Dr. Correa's recommendation that Defendant stay at Carswell, the Court held a status hearing on January 16, 2018, and ordered that Defendant remain there until March 16, 2018, to see if further efforts at restoring her competency would be successful. Docs. 94-96. Defendant continued to refuse medication, and her condition did not improve. Doc. 98.

         On March 8, 2018, the Court ordered a dangerous assessment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4246. Doc. 99. Defendant was again evaluated by Dr. Correa, who found that Defendant's release from custody would pose no danger to herself or others. Doc. 121.

         On April 20, 2018, the government filed a request for a Sell hearing. Doc. 107. The hearing was delayed by defense counsel's involvement in a lengthy federal trial. Following the trial, on July 30, 2018, the Court met with counsel and agreed to address the first Sell factor - the importance of the governmental interests at stake - before proceeding further. Doc. 120. The Court found that the first Sell factor is satisfied in this case, and set a status hearing for August 31, 2018, at which the scope of the hearing on the remaining Sell factors and the appointment of a guardian ad litem were discussed. Docs. 123, ...

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