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United States v. Hunter

filed*fn*: February 3, 1993.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MICHAEL H. HUNTER, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. CR-88-0093-ER. Edward Rafeedie, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Jerome Farris, Edward Leavy and Stephen S. Trott, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Trott.

Author: Trott

TROTT, Circuit Judge:

The United States government appeals the decision of the district court to release Michael Howard Hunter from observation and treatment at the Federal Medical Center at Rochester, Minnesota. The major issue in this appeal is whether the court may grant a defendant's pro se motion for a discharge hearing under 18 U.S.C. § 4247(h) (1988) once he has been committed to a psychiatric facility under 18 U.S.C. § 4244 (1988), or must such a motion be made by his counsel or legal guardian. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1988), and we hold that the district court may not grant such a motion.

I

FACTS

On December 29, 1987, Michael Howard Hunter made a telephone call to the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Office in Lynwood, Washington. When a sergeant answered the phone, Hunter stated: "My name is Mike Hunter. I am in Snohomish County Jail, and when I get out, I am going to kill the President." At that time, Hunter was being detained in the Snohomish County Jail on local charges.

That same day Hunter sent a letter to the United States Courthouse in Seattle, Washington. In the letter addressed to District Judge William Dwyer, Hunter wrote:

To: Judge William Dwyer:

Certify record to U.S. Supreme Court

RE: DISMISSAL BY REASON

I allege the Court has a Cuban-style or Russian-style manner of doing Justice - that the Court employs criminals, that I detest each and every federal court Judge now on the federal bench in Seattle, Tacoma and I demand dismissal by reason of bias and prejudice that Dwyer, Rothstein, McGovern etc. are fools who abused the power to give rich-wealthy (over) the square and someday I am waking you all up with a pistol in each hand! That I am not an American citizen that I will do anything in my power to destroy the system - that I devote my life to superseding everything you sons - of - bitches stand on. And you can take that to your next Hawaiian conference. Submitted Michael Howard Hunter.

The other individuals referenced in the letter apparently are Federal District Judges Barbara J. Rothstein and Walter T. McGovern.

On October 25, 1988, Hunter was convicted in a jury trial for threatening the life of the President of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871 (1988), and for threatening to assault federal Judges, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115 (1988). Prior to sentencing, Hunter moved the court to conduct a psychiatric evaluation pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4244(a). As a result of that evaluation and hearing, Hunter was determined to be mentally ill and was committed to the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, for psychiatric care and treatment. The court imposed a provisional eight year sentence for the convictions as required by 18 U.S.C. 4244(d).

On February 28, 1990, Hunter petitioned the court to conduct a hearing under 18 U.S.C. ยง 4247(h) to determine if he should be discharged from the psychiatric facility. The court subsequently ordered a hearing on June 1, 1990. After hearing the testimony of a government doctor, the district court determined that Hunter no longer required ...


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