Circuit Court for Baltimore County Case No. 03-K-13-005644
Woodward, C.J., Arthur, Reed, JJ.
case originated in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County,
where Travis E. Sanders (hereinafter the
"appellee") was charged with sex abuse of a minor,
sex offense in the second degree, sex offense in the third
degree, and second degree assault in connection with alleged
events that occurred between June 1 and August 20, 2013.
After pleading not guilty and, in the alternative, not
criminally responsible, the appellee was committed to the
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (hereinafter the
"Health Department") on May 5, 2014, for an
assessment of his competency to stand trial. That assessment
resulted in a finding of incompetency, and the circuit court
held a hearing on December 17, 2015, to review that
determination. Following the hearing, the court ruled that
the appellee remained incompetent to stand trial and was
"eligible" for Developmental Disabilities
Administration ("DDA") services.
Health Department presents two questions for our review on
appeal, which we rephrase:
1. Did the circuit court exceed its statutory authority when
it ordered that the appellee "is eligible for DDA
2. Was the circuit court's decision regarding the
appellee's eligibility for DDA services supported by
following reasons, we answer the first question in the
affirmative. Therefore, we need not consider the second
question and shall modify the judgment of the circuit court.
And Procedural Background
September 30, 2013, the appellee was indicted on various sex
offenses allegedly committed between June 1 and August 20 of
that year. He entered a plea of not guilty and, in the
alternative, not criminally responsible to each count on May
5, 2014. On that same day, citing "possible mental
retardation, " the circuit court committed the appellee
to the Health Department for an examination as to his
competency to stand trial.
report dated June 5, 2014, Stephen W. Siebert, M.D., M.P.H.,
and Erik Lane, Psy.D., both of the Health Department,
concluded that the appellee was not competent to stand trial.
In an addendum to that report, Drs. Siebert and Lane also
concluded that the appellee was a danger to himself or
others. Based on these conclusions, on July 23, 2014, the
circuit court ordered that the appellee be committed to the
Health Department until it was "satisfied that [he] is
no longer incompetent to stand trial or is no longer, by
reason of a mental disorder . . ., a danger to self or the
person or property of another." The Health Department
subsequently admitted the appellee to Spring Grove Hospital
Center (hereinafter "Spring Grove"), where he
remained for care and treatment from July 29, 2014, through
December 17, 2015.
the approximately thirteen months following the
appellee's admission to Spring Grove, the court received
four additional reports pertaining to the appellee's
competency to stand trial. Three of these reports-a January
7, 2015, report by Christopher M. Wilk, M.D., a Health
Department physician; a May 1, 2015, report by Melissa
Blackwell, Psy.D., a Health Department consultant; and a
September 2, 2015, report by Bevin Merles, Psy.D., a Health
Department psychologist-concluded with a finding that the
appellee was competent to stand trial. Only Beverlie Mormile,
Psy.D., a psychologist hired by the Office of the Public
Defender, in a report dated July 9, 2015, found that the
appellee was not competent to stand trial.
addition, the court received a report by Eric Fielding,
Ph.D., dated June 26, 2015. Unlike the others, Dr.
Fielding's report did not address the appellee's
competency to stand trial. Instead, pursuant to a court order
of January 9, 2015, its purpose was to "clarify [the
appellee's] diagnosis for treatment and discharge
February 2015, the appellee, with the assistance of Denise
Leite-Finken, a social worker at Spring Grove, filed an
application for DDA services. In a determination letter dated
March 30, 2015, the DDA informed the appellee that his
application had been denied because he did not meet all the
criteria for "developmental disability," and thus,
did not meet the statutory criteria for DDA services.
December 17, 2015, the circuit court held a hearing to review
its July 2014 determination that the appellee was not
competent to stand trial. After the hearing, the court issued
the following written order:
this 17th day of Dec[ember], 2015, by the Circuit Court for
Baltimore County ORDERED:
That upon consideration of the report of Eric Fielding, Ph.
D., Spring Grove State Hospital Department of Clinical
Psychology dated June 26, 2015 and the report of Beverli
[sic] Mormile, Psy.D. dated July 9, 2015, it is the finding
of the Court that the Defendant Travis Eugene Sanders, having
been charged with the commission of a crime, remains
incompetent to stand trial because of an intellectual
disability (intellectual developmental disorder) and remains
a danger to self or the person or property of another, and it
ORDERED, the defendant Travis Eugene Sanders is committed to
the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for placement in
a Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) facility
until the Court is satisfied the Defendant is no longer
incompetent to stand trial or is no longer a danger to self
or the person or property of others, and it is further
ORDERED that the defendant Travis Eugene Sanders is
eligible for DDA services, and it is further
ORDERED that immediately upon receipt of this order, Spring
Grove State Hospital Center shall transport the defendant
Travis Eugene Sanders to the Developmental Disabilities
Administration facility that the Department designates.
January 19, 2016, the Health Department filed a timely notice
of appeal to this Court.
Eligibility for DDA Services