Pride v. Estelle, No. 80-1488

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore BROWN and TATE; TATE
Citation649 F.2d 324
PartiesCurtis PRIDE, Petitioner-Appellant, v. W. J. ESTELLE, Jr., Etc., Respondent-Appellee. . Unit A
Docket NumberNo. 80-1488
Decision Date30 June 1981

Page 324

649 F.2d 324
Curtis PRIDE, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
W. J. ESTELLE, Jr., Etc., Respondent-Appellee.
No. 80-1488.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Unit A
June 30, 1981.

Erik S. Goodman, Staff Counsel for Inmates, Texas Dept. of Corrections, Sugarland, Tex., for petitioner-appellant.

Sam L. Jones, Leslie A. Benitez, Asst. Attys. Gen., Austin, Tex., for respondent-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before BROWN and TATE, Circuit Judges, and SMITH *, District Judge.

TATE, Circuit Judge:

The petitioner Pride prays for federal habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, with regard to his Texas state court conviction for aggravated robbery. The essence of Pride's asserted bases for relief in both the state habeas corpus proceedings and the federal proceedings below is that he was in fact incompetent to stand trial, despite a jury verdict to the contrary at his state pretrial competency hearing. The federal district court denied the writ of habeas corpus without a hearing. On appeal, we find that the petitioner raised a real, substantial and legitimate doubt as to his mental competency at his state trial, thus warranting a federal evidentiary hearing on his competency in fact at the time he was tried in state court for the state offense. The case will be remanded to the district court for disposition consistent with this opinion.

Page 325

The Proceedings Below

On July 21, 1975, following Pride's indictment under Texas criminal law for aggravated robbery but prior to trial on the crime charged, a jury trial was held to determine the sole issue of Pride's competency to stand trial. At that hearing, the petitioner presented the expert testimony of a state-employed psychiatrist, Dr. Kreimeyer, in support of his claim of incompetency. Dr. Kreimeyer testified that, based on a four-hour period of mental evaluation occurring two and one-half months prior to the competency hearing, Pride was incompetent to stand trial due to mental retardation and a paranoid schizophrenic condition.

The state countered with the expert testimony of a psychiatrist, Dr. Grice, who had examined the petitioner three years earlier in connection with a back injury Pride complained of at the time. Dr. Grice concluded that Pride was then neurotic, but neither psychotic nor mentally retarded. Based on this approximately two hour exam three years earlier as well as upon a brief conversation with Pride immediately prior to his testimony at the competency hearing, Dr. Grice opined that Pride was competent to stand trial. No other expert testimony was presented by either party.

On the basis of the expert testimony (and the testimony of the state's two lay witnesses a policeman and an assistant district attorney regarding their observations of Pride's demeanor), the jury found Pride competent to stand trial.

On August 6, 1975, a jury convicted Pride of aggravated robbery. He was thereafter sentenced to serve in state prison not less than five nor more than 30 years. The conviction was affirmed on July 30, 1976. Pride v. State, 538 S.W.2d 115 (Tex.Cr.App.1976).

On October 4, 1975, within a month after Pride's transfer to the Texas Department of Corrections to serve his prison term, Pride was sent to the comprehensive treatment center at the prison facilities for mental evaluation. Based on psychological and sociological testing in October of 1975, and psychiatric testing in April of 1976, treatment center staff members concluded that Pride was severely mentally handicapped, a condition characterized by both mental retardation and chronic paranoid schizophrenia. It was recommended that Pride be placed in an institution specializing in the treatment of mental disorders and the education of slow learners. Pride was subsequently transferred in July of 1976 to Rusk State Hospital for treatment. 1

Pride applied for state habeas corpus relief on March 2, 1978. His application was denied without hearing and without written opinion at both the state district court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Pride then petitioned the federal district court for federal habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The writ was denied without hearing, and this appeal followed.

Pride's Asserted Bases for Relief

On appeal before this court, the petitioner alleged violation of his federal constitutional right to due process in support of his claimed right to federal habeas corpus relief. Specifically, the petitioner contends that he was denied federal due process by: (1) the state's failure at the competency trial to rebut sufficiently with expert testimony the petitioner's prima facie case of incompetency, and (2) the use of the same jury at the petitioner's competency trial that had served at a preceding competency trial. Additionally, the petitioner contends although he does not so allege with particularity that he was in fact incompetent to stand trial. 2 On the basis of the

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latter contention we find merit in the petitioner's writ application, without finding it necessary to discuss the first issue.

The Issue of Incompetency in Fact

The conviction of an accused person while he is legally incompetent violates the due process guarantees of the federal constitution. Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 377-78, 86 S.Ct. 836, 838, 15 L.Ed.2d 815 (1966). Accordingly, a state defendant may be entitled to federal habeas relief if he can prove that he was in fact incompetent to stand trial. 3 See Reese v. Wainwright, 600 F.2d 1085, 1093-94 (5th Cir. 1979), cert. denied 444 U.S. 983, 100 S.Ct. 487, 62 L.Ed.2d 410 (1979); Davis v. State of Alabama, 545 F.2d 460, 465 (5th Cir. 1977).

However, before a federal court...

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7 practice notes
  • Goode v. Wainwright, No. 82-5244
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • May 2, 1983
    ...U.S. at 172, 95 S.Ct. at 904 (1975); Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 789, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960); Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 n. 4 (5th Cir. June 30, 1981); Reese v. Wainwright, 600 F.2d at At Goode's competency hearing, four psychiatrists testified. Three of ......
  • U.S. ex rel. Rivers v. Franzen, No. 81-2599
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 10, 1982
    ...based on pre-trial evidence of incompetency, the petitioner's conduct during trial, and post-trial incidents. In Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324 (5th Cir.1981), the Fifth Circuit found a substantial doubt as to the defendant's competency-in-fact to have stood trial based on a post-trial medi......
  • Johnson v. Estelle, No. 82-2033
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 6, 1983
    ...those assertions raise a "real, substantial and legitimate doubt" of the petitioner's competency at the time of trial. Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 (5th Cir.1981); Lee v. Alabama, 386 F.2d 97 (5th Cir.1967); Bruce v. Estelle, 483 F.2d 1031 (5th Cir.1973); Martin v. Estelle, 546 F.2d ......
  • Adams v. Wainwright, No. 84-3646
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 17, 1985
    ...unequivocally and clearly generate" the legitimate doubt. Bruce v. Estelle, supra, 483 F.2d at 1043; see also Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 (5th Cir.1981) (requiring "more than a showing by a preponderance of the evidence" that the petitioner might have been incompetent at the time of......
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7 cases
  • Goode v. Wainwright, No. 82-5244
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • May 2, 1983
    ...U.S. at 172, 95 S.Ct. at 904 (1975); Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 789, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960); Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 n. 4 (5th Cir. June 30, 1981); Reese v. Wainwright, 600 F.2d at At Goode's competency hearing, four psychiatrists testified. Three of ......
  • U.S. ex rel. Rivers v. Franzen, No. 81-2599
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 10, 1982
    ...based on pre-trial evidence of incompetency, the petitioner's conduct during trial, and post-trial incidents. In Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324 (5th Cir.1981), the Fifth Circuit found a substantial doubt as to the defendant's competency-in-fact to have stood trial based on a post-trial medi......
  • Johnson v. Estelle, No. 82-2033
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 6, 1983
    ...those assertions raise a "real, substantial and legitimate doubt" of the petitioner's competency at the time of trial. Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 (5th Cir.1981); Lee v. Alabama, 386 F.2d 97 (5th Cir.1967); Bruce v. Estelle, 483 F.2d 1031 (5th Cir.1973); Martin v. Estelle, 546 F.2d ......
  • Adams v. Wainwright, No. 84-3646
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 17, 1985
    ...unequivocally and clearly generate" the legitimate doubt. Bruce v. Estelle, supra, 483 F.2d at 1043; see also Pride v. Estelle, 649 F.2d 324, 326 (5th Cir.1981) (requiring "more than a showing by a preponderance of the evidence" that the petitioner might have been incompetent at the time of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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