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United States v. Wadner

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 28, 2014

United States of America, Petitioner,
Polynice Wadner, Respondent.

Bahram Samie, Assistant United States Attorney, for Petitioner.

Katherine Menendez, Assistant Federal Defender, for Respondent.


FRANKLIN L. NOEL, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on the Government's Petition to Determine Present Mental Condition of an Imprisoned Person Under 18 U.S.C. § 4245 [ECF No. 1]. The petition alleges that Respondent Polynice Wadner (Wadner) presently suffers from a mental disease or defect for the treatment of which he is in need of custody and care in a suitable psychiatric facility, namely the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, MN (FMC Rochester). A hearing on this matter was held on January 17, 2014 wherein FMC Rochester Mental Health Psychologist Dr. Melissa Klein testified on behalf of the Government. Wadner refused to attend the hearing.[1] The Government submitted twenty-eight exhibits into evidence. See ECF No. 10. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that the Petition [ECF No. 1] be GRANTED.


A. Wadner's History of Mental Illness

Wadner is a citizen of Haiti and 36 years old. Gov't. Ex. 3 at 1. In September of 2008, Wadner was taken into custody by United States officials while living in Haiti and voluntarily extradited to the United States on chargers of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, and attempted hostage taking. Id. at 2. Wadner subsequently pled guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1203 in the United States District Court, District of Columbia in May 2009. Id. at 3.

Before entering into Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody, Wadner was detained in a Washington, D.C. jail. Id. In September 2008, jail staff completed a mental health evaluation of Wadner. Id. The evaluation identified no history of mental health issues. Id. Likewise, in a presentence investigation report, Wadner reported no past treatment for mental or emotional health problems. Id. Wadner is currently serving a 180-month sentence, with a projected release date of June 4, 2022. Id. at 1.

Wadner was committed to the BOP on September 18, 2009 and initially designated to Rivers Correctional Institution in North Carolina (Rivers CI). Id. Records indicate that Wadner was receiving psychotropic medications upon his arrival at Rivers CI for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Gov't. Ex. 4 at 1. However, it is unclear when Wadner was prescribed this medication. The record reflects that Wadner first reported experiencing psychiatric problems while incarcerated in November 2009, when he admitted to feelings of paranoia and fleeting suicidal thoughts. Gov't. Ex. 3 at 1. Rivers CI medical staff diagnosed Wadner with schizoaffective disorder and Wadner complied with a medication regimen and remained stable for several months. Id. at 3-4. In May 2011, Wadner requested to discontinue his medication and signed a medication refusal form. Id. at

4. Against medical advice, medication was discontinued. Id.

Wadner's condition deteriorated after he ceased compliance with his medication treatment schedule; he began to exhibit increased paranoia and impulsive behaviors. See id. at 5-7. Rivers CI staff periodically placed Wadner in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) (a restrictive lockdown unit) during his incarceration at Rivers CI due to both erratic behavior and disciplinary infractions. See id. In September 2011, Wadner stopped eating and drinking for a period of a few days. Id. at 5. In an administrative complaint, Wadner claimed that the toothpaste he purchased at the commissary was intentionally altered to make him sick and he refused to eat anything while in SHU because there was a "plot on [his] life." Id. While housed in SHU in February 2012, Wadner continued to refuse food due to the fear that he was previously "hurt by the food" in SHU. Id. In March 2012, Wadner complained of a pain in his throat, claiming that the pain stemmed from an incident in a Washington, D.C. jail where correctional officers placed a device in Wadner's throat which controlled his brain and allowed others to hear his thoughts. Id. Wadner was again placed in SHU in December 2012 after he reported being cut with a razor and staff observed lacerations on his cheek and back; Wadner subsequently stopped eating. Id. at 6. In February 2013, Wadner requested to be tested for HIV, stating that he was given a food tray that contained the AIDS virus and he became infected with the virus by consuming prison food. Id.

Wadner engaged in multiple disciplinary infractions while incarcerated at Rivers CI.[2] Records indicate that in May 2013, Wadner twice threw feces at Rivers CI officers when the officers were attempting to deliver food to Wadner's cell. Gov't. Ex. 22-23. Further, in July 2013, Wadner headbutted a Disciplinary Hearing Officer during a disciplinary proceeding. Gov't. Ex. 24. Psychology staff found that Wadner was responsible for the infractions, but not competent at the time of the incidences. Gov't. Ex. 3 at 4.

Due to Wadner's psychiatric deterioration and his escalating assaultive behaviors, staff determined that Wadner should be transferred from Rivers CI to a Medical Referral Center for more extensive monitoring and treatment. Id. at 6. Rivers CI medical staff believed that so long as Wadner refused treatment, his paranoia, impulsive behaviors, and unpredictable nature posed a safety risk to staff and inmates at Rivers CI. Id.

Wadner arrived at FMC Rochester on August 22, 2013. Id at 7. Upon his arrival, Wadner denied any history of mental health problems when evaluated by FMC Rochester staff. Id. at 7-8. Wadner was placed on Secure Housing Status in SHU and received constant observation due to his ...

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