Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Izquierdo: Incompetency to Withdraw Guilty Plea

In U.S. v. Izquierdo, No. 04-14641 (May 10, 2006), the Court affirmed the denial of a motion to withdraw a guilty plea based on incompetency.
After pleading guilty to cocaine-trafficking charges, the defendant filed a motion for a psychological evaluation, and attached an expert report which diagnosed him as mentally incompetent. A competency test was ordered, and it also concluded that Izquierdo was incompetent. However, after this report was filed an inmate at Izquierdo’s prison reported that Izquierdo told him that he planned to act crazy in order to be found incompetent. A second competency report was ordered, and it concluded that Izquierdo was competent, and that he had misled the psychologist earlier.
The Court noted that, although the government ordinarily bears the burden of proving a person’s competency to stand trial on criminal charges, here Izquierdo was moving to withdraw his guilty plea. In this circumstance, Izquierdo bore the burden of showing incompetency. The Court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving greater weight to the second competency report, and in therefore denying Izquierdo’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea based on his incompetence.