180 F.Supp.3d 998 (D.Utah 2016), 2:15-cv-00645-RJS, Disability Law Center v. State

Docket Nº:2:15-cv-00645-RJS
Citation:180 F.Supp.3d 998
Opinion Judge:ROBERT J. SHELBY, United States District Judge.
Party Name:DISABILITY LAW CENTER, a Utah nonprofit corporation; S.B., an individual, by and through his next friend Margaret Goodman; A.U., by and through his next friend Mary Eka; and S.W., an individual, Plaintiffs, v. STATE OF UTAH; UTAH DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; ANN WILLIAMSON, in her official capacity as Executive Director of the Utah Department of H
Attorney:No. 2:15-cv-00645-RJS For Disability Law Center, a Utah nonprofit corporation, S. B., an individual by and through his next friend Margaret Goodman, A. U., by and through his next friend Mary Eka, S. W., an individual, Plaintiffs: Aaron M. Kinikini, LEAD ATTORNEY, Erin Burns Sullivan, SALT LAKE C...
Case Date:April 07, 2016
Court:United States District Courts, 10th Circuit, District of Utah
 
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Page 998

180 F.Supp.3d 998 (D.Utah 2016)

DISABILITY LAW CENTER, a Utah nonprofit corporation; S.B., an individual, by and through his next friend Margaret Goodman; A.U., by and through his next friend Mary Eka; and S.W., an individual, Plaintiffs,

v.

STATE OF UTAH; UTAH DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; ANN WILLIAMSON, in her official capacity as Executive Director of the Utah Department of Human Services; UTAH DIVISION OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH; DOUGLAS THOMAS, in his official capacity as Director of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health; UTAH STATE HOSPITAL; DALLAS EARNSHAW, in his official capacity as Superintendent of Utah State Hospital, Defendants

No. 2:15-cv-00645-RJS

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

April 7, 2016

For Disability Law Center, a Utah nonprofit corporation, S. B., an individual by and through his next friend Margaret Goodman, A. U., by and through his next friend Mary Eka, S. W., an individual, Plaintiffs: Aaron M. Kinikini, LEAD ATTORNEY, Erin Burns Sullivan, SALT LAKE CITY, UT; Alan L. Sullivan, Bret R. Evans, Jared C. Fields, SNELL & WILMER (UT), SALT LAKE CITY, UT.

For State of Utah, Utah Department of Human Services, Ann Williamson, in her official capacity as Executive Director of the Utah Department of Human Services, Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Douglas Thomas, in his official capacity as director of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Utah State Hospital, Dallas Earnshaw, in his official capacity as Superintendent of Utah State Hospital, Defendants: David N. Wolf, Parker Douglas, LEAD ATTORNEYS, UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE (160-6-140856), LITIGATION UNIT, SALT LAKE CITY, UT; Laura K. Thompson, Tyler R. Green, LEAD ATTORNEYS, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, SALT LAKE CITY, UT.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

ROBERT J. SHELBY, United States District Judge.

This case is about the substantive due process rights of pretrial detainees who have been declared incompetent to stand trial. The State of Utah holds these pretrial detainees--who have been declared incompetent but have not been adjudicated guilty of a crime--in jail for extended periods while they wait to receive court-ordered competency restoration treatment. The question presented is whether the State is depriving these incompetent criminal defendants of their substantive due process rights under the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution.

Plaintiffs bring this putative class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the State and related parties. The State now moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons stated below, the court denies the State's motion.

BACKGROUND

Before addressing the legal issues presented by the State's motion, the court first introduces the parties to this lawsuit, outlines the State's statutory procedure for identifying incompetent criminal defendants, and discusses the problem giving rise to this action.1

I. The Parties

Plaintiff Disability Law Center (DLC) and Individual Plaintiffs S.B., A.U, and S.W. bring this putative class action on behalf of themselves and the class of incompetent defendants they seek to represent. Each member of the putative class has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and is being, or has been, detained in a county jail in State custody while awaiting transfer to Defendant Utah State Hospital (USH) for competency restoration treatment. USH is a state psychiatric hospital and the only facility in Utah that provides competency restoration treatment to criminal defendants who have been declared incompetent to stand trial.

DLC is a federally authorized and funded nonprofit corporation established under the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill. Individuals Act of 1986.2 Utah's Governor has designated DLC as the State's protection and advocacy system. In that capacity, DLC advocates for and seeks to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including individuals with mental illness.

S.B. is a criminal defendant charged with shoplifting. He is being held in State custody pending trial. A Utah trial court declared S.B. mentally incompetent to stand trial on March 11, 2015, and ordered that he be transferred to USH for competency restoration treatment. But because USH lacked space, it placed S.B. on its waiting list for admissions. S.B. was still incarcerated at the Utah County Jail when this case was filed on September 8, 2015.

A.U. is charged with violating the terms of his probation. On April 6, 2015, a Utah trial court declared A.U. mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred to USH for competency restoration treatment. Yet, as it did with S.B., USH placed A.U. on its waiting list. A.U. remained in the custody of the Utah County Jail as of the filing of this case, even though the trial court ordered on June 8, 2015, that A.U. be released until space is available at USH.

S.W. is charged with shoplifting. A Utah trial court found S.W. mentally incompetent on May 7, 2015, and ordered that he be provided treatment, care, custody, and security that is adequate and appropriate for his needs and conditions. USH placed S.W. on its waiting list. S.W. was still held in the Salt Lake County Jail when this case was filed.

Defendants include the State, the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS), the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), and USH.3 DHS is charged by statute with providing competency restoration services to incompetent criminal defendants. DSAMH, which is a division of DHS, operates USH. Defendants also include three State officials who are sued in their official capacities: Ann Williamson, the Executive Director of DHS; Douglas Thomas, the Director of DSAMH; and Dallas Earnshaw, the Superintendent of USH.

II. The State's Statutory Scheme for Competency Restoration

The State has established a statutory procedure for identifying incompetent persons charged with a crime and for providing those persons with competency restoration treatment so their guilt or innocence can be determined at trial.

Utah law provides that a criminal defendant declared incompetent to stand trial shall not be tried for a criminal offense.4 When a criminal defendant's competency to stand trial is raised, the trial court must stay all proceedings and review the allegations of incompetency.5 If the court determines that the allegations " raise a bona fide doubt as to the defendant's competency to stand trial," the court " shall order an examination of the defendant and a hearing on the defendant's mental condition." 6 At least two mental health experts must examine the defendant and provide to the court and counsel within thirty days of the court's order a report on the defendant's competency.7 The court usually must hold a competency hearing between five and fifteen days after receiving the report.8

If the court concludes after the hearing that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial, then " the court shall order the defendant committed to the custody of the executive director of the Department of Human Services or a designee for the purpose of treatment intended to restore the defendant to competency." 9 DHS, in turn, must transfer the defendant to USH, as it is the only Utah facility designated for providing competency restoration treatment to incompetent criminal defendants. Treatment teams at USH provide intensive individualized care and treatment in an attempt to restore the defendant's competency.

Once the defendant arrives at USH, an examiner must provide to the court and counsel within ninety days a report on the defendant's progress.10 The examiner may receive an additional ninety days to provide the report if he provides a progress report informing the court that more time is necessary to complete the assessment.11

After receiving the USH progress report and assessment, the court must hold a hearing to determine the defendant's current status. After the hearing, the court may do one of three things. First, if the court determines that the defendant has regained competency, the court must direct the defendant to stand trial.12 Second, if the court finds the defendant remains incompetent to stand trial with a substantial probability of regaining competency in the foreseeable future, then " the court may order that the defendant remain committed to the custody of the executive director of the Department of Human Services or a designee for the purpose of treatment intended to restore the defendant to competency." 13 Third, if the court concludes the defendant is incompetent to stand trial without a substantial probability of regaining competency in the foreseeable future, then the court must order the defendant...

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