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United States v. Gold

May 7, 1986

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
ARNOLD GOLD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, John E. Sprizzo, Judge, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241, finding defendant incompetent to stand trial and committing him to the custody of the United States Attorney General for hospitalization. Affirmed.

Before: Kearse Cardamone, Circuit Judges, and Pollack, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Kearse

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:

Defendant Arnold Gold appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, John E. Sprizzo, Judge, entered pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (Supp. II 1984), finding Gold to be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to stand trial and committing him to the custody of the United States Attorney General for hospitalization in a suitable facility for a least four months. Gold's appointed counsel has moved pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 18 L. Ed. 2d 493, 87 S. Ct. 1396 (1967), to be relieved as appointed counsel on the ground that the appeal presents no nonfrivolous issue. Gold has requested that new counsel be assigned to represent him on this appeal. We agree with Gold's counsel that the commitment order creates no nonfrivolous issues for review on appeal, and we therefore affirm the order of commitment, grant counsel's motion to be relieved as appointed counsel, and deny Gold's motion for the appointment of new appellate counsel to represent him. We write here principally to clarify the matter of our jurisdiction to entertain Gold's appeal.

Background

In August 1984, Gold was charged in a one-count indictment with having mailed a threatening communication, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876 (1982). The alleged communication was a four-page letter from Gold to the Manhattan District Attorney, demanding $1,000,000 and threatening to injure him. The preindictment complaint alleged that along with this letter. Gold mailed a machete. Gold was arrested and sent to the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri ("Springfield"), for evaluation. Psychiatric evaluations of Gold proceeded until February 1985; in March 1985, the government moved for Gold's commitment on the ground that he was not competent to stand trial. Judge Sprizzo scheduled a competency hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241.

The hearing was commenced in April 1985. At that time Dr. James R. Leach, chief of forensic psychiatry at Springfield, testified that he believed Gold "did not have the mental capacity to have a reasonable and factual understanding of the legal proceedings against him and . . . that he probably could not assist his attorney in preparing his defense." Gold testified in opposition to the government's motion. He disagreed with Dr. Leach's evaluation and testified that Dr. Leach had threatened him.

At the end of the April hearing, Judge Sprizzo stated that while he thought Dr. Leach's opinion was well-founded, he was "not convinced that some of the diagnosis may not have been impacted by this defendant's uncooperative attitude of Springfield or his personal problems there." Accordingly, Judge Sprizzo ordered that Gold be examined by another forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Naomi Goldstein.

Dr. Goldstein examined Gold and advised the court of her evaluation both by letter and in testimony at a further hearing. Her August 1985 letter stated that she found Gold to be "terribly confused with substantial distortion of events around him which pertain closely and importantly to him including his legal situation," and "experiencing a series of delusional beliefs about technologies that control the mind." Dr. Goldstein noted that although Gold does not want to appeal to be mentally sick,

he lives in a world in which all of his behavior is considered to be the product of various untoward influences, whether it be injection, or some other form of mind control. He talks of communications within his head, of special messages and transmittors, etc. He basically blames a series of significant people for all his difficulties.

Her diagnosis was that Gold was suffering "schiozphreniz, chronic, undifferentiated type with significant paranoid ideation." Her

professional opinion [was] that Mr. Gold is not competent to proceed. While he has a clear understanding of the charges and the proceedings, his ability to cooperate rationally is markedly impaired by the profound delusional experiences which inform so much of his thinking.

Dr. Goldstein concluded that she did "not believe that Mr. Gold can cooperate rationally in his own defense." At the resumed hearing before Judge Sprizzo in October 1985, Dr. Goldstein reaffirmed the views stated in her August 1985 letter to the court.

After the October hearing, Judge Sprizzo entered an order of commitment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d). Based on the testimony of Drs. Goldstein and leach, and on letters written to the court by Gold, the court concluded that Gold was "presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to stand trial," and it accordingly ordered that Gold be committed to the custody of the United States Attorney General for hospitatlization in a suitable facility. The commitment was for a period of four months to determine whether there was a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future ...


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