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United States v. Taylor

February 15, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF
v.
REJON TAYLOR, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is the United States's ("Government") motion for a mental evaluation (Court File No. 434) and defendant Rejon Taylor's motion to strike the Government's motion (Court File No. 441). Magistrate Judge William B. Carter held a hearing on this matter and filed a report and recommendation ("R&R") recommending the Government's motion be granted in part and denied in part and Defendant's motion to strike be denied (Court File No. 459). Defendant filed objections to the R&R (Court File No. 460), and the Government filed an untimely response (Court File No. 503). Having conducted a de novo review of the material related to this matter, including a transcript of the hearing before Judge Carter (Court File No. 498, pp. 15-25), the Court agrees with the conclusions of the R&R. Therefore, for the following reasons, the Court will OVERRULE Defendant's objection (Court File No. 460), and ADOPT and ACCEPT the R&R (Court File No. 459).

I. RELEVANT FACTS, PROCEDURAL HISTORY, AND PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

A superseding indictment (Court File No. 447) charges Defendant with:

(1) Carjacking Resulting in Death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2119(3) and (2)(a) and (b);

(2) Firearms Murder During and in Relation to Carjacking, 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2(a) and (b);

(3) Kidnapping Resulting in Death, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201(a)(1) and 2(a) and (b); and

(4) Firearms Murder During and in Relation to Kidnapping, 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2(a) and (b).

The Government filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty (Court File No. 123), and recently filed a superseding notice (Court File No. 511).

The Court entered a Revised Scheduling Order on November 10, 2006, which required the Government, if it wanted an independent evaluation of Defendant's mental health, to notify the Court and Defendant by September 17, 2007 (Court File No. 380, p. 3). The Order also required Defendant, if he intends to raise mental health as a defense or mitigating circumstance at trial, to notify the Court and the Government by November 2, 2007 (id.). Trial is set for April 7, 2008 (id., p. 1).

Defendant filed three notices about his mental health. The first notice was filed September 10, 2007 (Court File No. 418), a week before the Government's deadline to request a mental evaluation of Defendant. The notice named an expert witness, Dr. David Solovey, a psychologist who has interviewed Defendant and members of his family, administered various psychological tests on Defendant, and reviewed various records. The notice states Dr. Solovey "will testify as to Mr. Taylor's psychological status relative to the commission of the alleged offense and his behavior while incarcerated. He will also testify to mitigation factors. He will not testify that Mr. Taylor is incompetent to stand trial, is mentally retarded, or meets the legal test of insanity."

Although the evidence of Defendant's psychological status is based on Dr. Solovey's interviews with Defendant, Defendant argues the Government does not need to conduct its own interview of Defendant because the Government has Dr. Solovey's report and Government experts will be able to listen to Dr. Solovey's testimony at trial and rebut him.

Defendant filed a second notice on November 1, 2007, the day before his deadline to raise mental health as a defense or mitigating circumstance. The notice states Defendant "may introduce evidence that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may also produce evidence concerning frontal lobe developments and its impact upon" him (Court File No. 427). To testify on these issues, Defendant stated he may call two witnesses in addition to Dr. Solovey (id.).

The Government subsequently filed its motion for a mental examination on November 7, 2007 (Court File No. 434). In the course of litigating the Government's motion for a mental evaluation, Defendant filed a third notice, on November 13, 2007 (Court File No. 442). That notice clarified Defendant's previous notices by explaining "the defense will not introduce psychological evidence during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, but will only use said evidence during the sentencing phase. Defense will not ...


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