State v. Ray, 23

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation429 Md. 566,57 A.3d 444
Docket NumberSept. Term, 2012.,No. 23,23
PartiesSTATE of Maryland v. John Wesley RAY.
Decision Date18 December 2012

429 Md. 566
57 A.3d 444

STATE of Maryland
John Wesley RAY.

No. 23, Sept. Term, 2012.

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

Dec. 18, 2012.

[57 A.3d 446]

James E. Williams, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Douglas F. Gansler, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for petitioner.

David P. Kennedy, Asst. Public Defender (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for respondent.



[429 Md. 569]John Wesley Ray has spent the last eleven years at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, waiting to become competent to stand trial for a crime he allegedly committed in 2001. In 2009 the charges against him were dismissed pursuant to Section 3–107(a) of the Criminal Procedure Article (“CP”) of the Maryland Code (2001, 2008 Repl.Vol.), which requires dismissal of charges upon passage of certain time periods. Shortly after the dismissal, however, the State re-indicted Ray, who once again was found incompetent and dangerous and placed at Perkins for another round of incompetency-to-stand-trial (“IST”) treatment.1 Ray challenges his re-indictment, arguing that the State should not be allowed to “continue to confine” him “by simply re-indicting [him] on the same charges that were required to be dismissed pursuant to § 3–107.”

While we appreciate Ray's indignation, his arguments are misdirected. He conflates re-institution of charges with commitment, suggesting that the State impermissibly confined him because of the re-indictment. But indictment is just one of several prerequisites to IST commitment. Under the Maryland incompetency statutes, IST commitment is appropriate only when the defendant is facing criminal charges, is incompetent,[429 Md. 570]dangerous, and substantially likely to become competent in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, when the circuit court placed Ray in IST commitment, it made no finding as to whether Ray was likely to become competent, i.e. whether he was “restorable.” 2 It is the lack of such a finding—but not the re-indictment itself—that should have been the focus of Ray's challenge.

Ray's argument challenging re-indictment is not only misdirected; it also has no support in the statutes. CP § 3–107 expressly provides that a dismissal of charges is without prejudice, and nothing in the legislative history suggests that the General Assembly intended to place a limit on the State's power to re-indict after a CP § 3–107 dismissal. Thus, we hold that

[57 A.3d 447]

the State may re-indict a defendant after a CP § 3–107 dismissal without establishing his competency.

This does not mean, however, that the re-indictment resets the clock for constitutionally-permissible IST commitments. The dismissal deadlines under CP § 3–107 provide yardsticks for determining the reasonable amount of time necessary to determine if a defendant is restorable. Once these statutorily-prescribed time periods expire and charges are dismissed, there is a presumption that the time necessary for determining whether an individual is restorable has passed. To then place a re-indicted defendant in IST commitment without overcoming the presumption that he was unrestorable would contradict the legislative intent behind the recent amendments to our incompetency statutes. Accordingly, the error below was not that the circuit court allowed the State to re-indict Ray after a CP § 3–107 dismissal, but that it placed him in IST commitment, when there was a presumption that he was unrestorable. We give the circuit court an opportunity to correct this error on remand.


Many pages of appellate reports have been devoted to Ray's mental disease and his psychotic delusions. See Ray v. State, 410 Md. 384, 978 A.2d 736 (2009) (“Ray I ”); Adams v. State,3204 Md.App. 418, 41 A.3d 572 (2012) (“ Ray II ”). It suffices to say that Ray is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with violent thoughts toward others and delusions about his involvement with law enforcement. Ray I, 410 Md. at 390, 393, 395, 978 A.2d at 739–40, 742.

The Initial Charges and IST Commitment

In 2001, Ray was charged with first-degree attempted murder and lesser included offenses in connection with an alleged attack on his former girlfriend. Id. at 387, 978 A.2d at 737. Ray entered a plea of not criminally responsible and was found incompetent to stand trial in 2002. He was committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DHMH”) and placed at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup, Maryland. Id.

Until 2004, Ray did not want to take medications because he believed they impeded his “psychic powers.” Id. at 394, 396, 978 A.2d at 741, 742. Later, he was back on medication with varying success. For instance, in the opinion of one of his doctors in 2007, Ray responded to treatment with Rispiridon “enough to not be a danger to others while in the hospital” but not enough to truly understand “that he has a mental illness.” Id. at 396, 978 A.2d at 742.

During the initial five years at Perkins, there was a time when Ray's doctors believed he may have become competent. In 2005, he was referred to a pretrial criminal responsibility evaluation, but it revealed that the doctors were wrong. Ray continued to be delusional and, as a result, incompetent to stand trial. Id. at 390, 978 A.2d at 739. Other than this incident of mistaken competence, Ray's annual competency [429 Md. 572]evaluations consistently declared him incompetent to stand trial. Id. at 389, 978 A.2d at 738.

Ray's First Motion to Dismiss Charges

In 2007, Ray filed a motion to dismiss charges under CP § 3–107, arguing that a

[57 A.3d 448]

dismissal was proper because five years had gone by without his restoration to competency. Id. The State opposed the motion. It contended that because Ray was incompetent and dangerous, but restorable, there was an “extraordinary cause” allowing the charges to stand. Id.

Four psychiatrists testified at a hearing on Ray's motion. The Director of Pretrial Services at Perkins, a supervisor of incompetent patients at Perkins, and a fellow in forensic psychiatry at Perkins all testified in general terms that they believed Ray was restorable because he was partially responding to his current medications and that “he certainly has not had an exhaustive trial of all the available antipsychotic medications.” Id. at 389–94, 978 A.2d at 739–41. Ray's treating psychiatrist was more specific. He indicated that, despite Ray's partial improvement, “he was too delusional in the sense he was still having fixed false ideas of multiple situations that were also described in his admission.” Id. at 394, 978 A.2d at 742. Nevertheless, Ray's treating psychiatrist also believed Ray could be restored to competency with proper medication, such as Clozapene.4Id. at 396, 978 A.2d at 743. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Circuit Court for Harford County found “extraordinary” cause to extend the time to maintain Ray's criminal charges and denied Ray's motion to dismiss. Id. at 402, 978 A.2d at 746.

The First Appeal: Ray I

Ray appealed the Circuit Court's ruling. Prior to any proceedings in the Court of Special Appeals, we granted certiorari. Id. at 388, 978 A.2d at 738. The issue before us [429 Md. 573]was “whether ‘extraordinary cause’ existed to extend the time for Ray's criminal charges or whether the charges should have been dismissed, because five years had elapsed since Ray was found not competent to stand trial.” Id. at 405–06, 978 A.2d at 748. We held that there was no “extraordinary cause” to extend the statutorily-prescribed time 5 and directed the Circuit Court to dismiss Ray's charges. Id. at 419–20, 978 A.2d at 756–57. We noted, however, “that under the statute the State may re-institute charges and that civil commitment proceedings may be initiated against Ray.” Id. at 420, 978 A.2d at 757.

The Re–Institution of Charges and Ray's Second Motion to Dismiss

The State took our recognition that charges may be re-filed as an invitation to immediately re-charge Ray.6 He filed a motion to dismiss the new charges, arguing that the State's re-institution of charges nullifies CP § 3–107(a) and denies him “any of the statutory remedies and civil commitment process provided in [ CP §] 3–106(a) through (e).” While his motion was pending, Ray alleged incompetency

[57 A.3d 449]

to stand trial. In accordance with CP § 3–101(f), the Circuit Court for Harford County ordered a competency examination. The order required the DHMH to examine Ray and “determine whether [he] is able to understand the nature or object of the proceeding or to assist in his defense” and whether he “would be a danger to himself or the person or property of another if released.”

[429 Md. 574]The examination confirmed that Ray's mental illness is not malingered and that he was both incompetent and dangerous. The competency evaluation report, dated January 28, 2010, revealed that, since the last examination in 2007, Ray had been treated with Clozapene, and that at that time he was taking Abilify, Depakote, Ecotrin, and Niacin. The report also stated that during Ray's stay at Perkins, he had been treated with other antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel, Risperdal, and Geodon. Although these medications brought some “improvement in [Ray's] symptoms,” according to the psychiatrist, “there was never complete resolution.”

The psychiatrist noted that although “Ray has an advanced understanding of courtroom proceedings and terminology” and “agreed that he has Schizophrenia,” he “continued to talk about details of the case in a delusional manner.” The psychiatrist concluded: “It was apparent that Ray has no actual insight [into his illness]. He continues to think that his delusions are reality.... These delusions make him unable to assist in his defense. Therefore, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Ray is not competent to stand trial.” Additionally, because of the persistent psychotic delusions and “a history of...

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