United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
FINDINGS OF FACT & CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
CHARLES C. LOVELL, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on Defendant's pro
se motion to terminate supervision and a memorandum from
his supervising probation officer requesting a hearing
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4243 to assess the need for
continued supervision or the appropriateness of supervision
being terminated. In response to Defendant'spro
se motion and the probation officer's hearing
request, the Court set down a release hearing for September
7, 2018. The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether
Defendant's unconditional release from supervision would
create a substanial risk of bodily injury to another person
or serious damage to property of another due to a present
mental disease or defect.
Phelps (Mr. Phelps) appeared at his hearing via video from
Burlington, Vermont. His counsel, Michael Donahoe, was
present in person, as was counsel for the United States,
Paulette Stewart. The Court heard testimony from Mr. Phelps
and the following witnesses, who also appeared by video from
Vermont: Miro Passe, Mr. Phelps's case manager at the
Howard Center; Dr. Sandra Steingard, Mr. Phelps's
treating psychiatrist at the Howard Center; and Louis Stazi,
Mr. Phelps's United States Probation Officer.
on the evidence presented at the September 7, 2018, hearing,
and the record in this case, the Court makes the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law.
June 6, 2005, the Court held a bench trial and found that Mr.
Phelps had committed two federal offenses (setting timber on
fire and malicious destruction of federal property) but that
he suffered from a severe mental disease (schizophrenia,
undifferentiated type) that made hm unable to appreciate the
nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts. The Court
therefore found him not guilty only by reason of insanity.
November of 2005, the Court conducted a "dangerousness
hearing" under 18 U.S.C. § 4243. The Court held
that the Defendant failed to meet his burden of proof by the
"clear and convincing evidence" standard that
"his release would not create a substantial risk of
bodily injury to another person or serious damage of property
of another due to a present mental disease or defect,"
18 U.S.C. § 4243(d). Defendant was remanded to the
custody of the Attorney General and was placed in Federal
Medical Center, Devins, in Massachusetts.
January 25, 2008, the Court granted Mr. Phelps conditional
release, based on 18 U.S.C. § 4243(f) and the filing by
Warden Sabol (Federal Medical Center, Devins) of a
"Certificate of Improved Mental Condition and Request
for Conditional Release from Hospitalization."
conditions of release imposed by the Court in January of 2008
included a requirement that Mr. Phelps was to be supervised
by the United States Probation Office, District of Vermont,
and was to reside at the Next Door Residential Program,
operated by the Howard Center, in Burlington, Vermont.
Steingard first met Mr. Phelps in 2007, when she conducted
the initial assessment regarding his release to the Howard
Center. She has continued to serve as his treating
psychiatrist since that time.
United States Probation Officer Stazi (PO Stazi) began
supervising Mr. Phelps in January of 2008, and has continued
to supervise him since that time.
October of 2010, the Court modified Defendant Phelps's
conditions to allow him to reside outside the Howard Center.
This modification was requested by PO Stazi and consented to
by Mr. Phelps.
the years, PO Stazi has reduced the intensity of his
supervision of Mr. Phelps based on Mr. Phelps's
compliance with his conditions of supervision and with the
schedule established by the Howard Center. PO Stazi has
observed Mr. Phelps's comfort level with living
independently in the community improve during the years he
has supervised Mr. Phelps.
Stazi is unaware of any time in the last 10 years that Mr.
Phelps has violated a condition of release. PO Stazi has
observed nothing in Mr. Phelps's behavior over the last
10 years to ...