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United States v. Gagnon

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division

March 10, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARC MARK GAGNON, Defendant.

          Zachary T. Lee, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States.

          Nancy C. Dickenson, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Abingdon, Virginia, for Marc Mark Gagnon.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James P. Jones, United States District Judge.

         Marc Mark Gagnon, who is subject to conditions imposed by this court following his release from civil commitment, has moved to remove or modify those conditions. Following a hearing and for the reasons set forth hereafter, his request will be denied.

         I.

         Gagnon, now thirty-eight years old, has a long history of mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of eighteen. In 2005 he became obsessed with a well-known actress. He wrote a series of letters to the actress and her husband, threatening to kill them unless they divorced. After he made these threats, he left his home to drive to New York City, where the actress was performing. En route, he had a serious car accident in this district and while hospitalized, his prior obsession and threats became known to the authorities, and he was arrested and subsequently charged in this court with interstate stalking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A. On December 12, 2006, the court found Gagnon not guilty solely by reason of insanity. He was thereafter civilly committed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4243(e).

         Following a hearing on June 29, 2010, the court found that Gagnon had proved by clear and convincing evidence that he had recovered from his mental disease or defect to such an extent that his release on conditions would no longer create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to property of another. He was accordingly ordered released subject to a number of stated conditions pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4243(f)(2).[1]

         In accord with the conditions of release, Gagnon lived with his mother and stepfather and was required to comply with a prescribed regimen of psychiatric care, including antipsychotic medication. However, in 2012 his mental condition deteriorated. His then-treating psychiatrist reported that Gagnon's symptoms were getting worse and that he was at a high risk for decompensating. It was discovered that he had been viewing inappropriate materials over the internet and had become infatuated with another female celebrity. As a result, the probation office filed a petition alleging violation of his conditions of release. Gagnon was arrested, and by order entered April 17, 2013, he was committed for a psychiatric examination and report to the court. Following that report and a hearing, the court dismissed the violation petition and released Gagnon, subject to modified conditions of release. Order, Oct. 3, 2013, ECF No. 204.

         Gagnon thereafter complied with his conditions of release. As a result, the court removed the condition requiring location monitoring, based on the request of his supervising probation officer. Order, Jan. 19, 2016, ECF No. 205. His only known problem occurred when his probation officer learned through computer monitoring that he had established a Facebook account using a pseudonym. He explained that he did so only to protect his privacy and not for any untoward purpose. The probation officer required him to close the account and the conduct has not been repeated.

         Gagnon is presently subject to the conditions of release established in 2013, as modified in early 2016 to remove location monitoring. On July 29, 2016, the court received a letter from Gagnon, requesting that he be removed from his conditions of release. Counsel was appointed for him, who filed an amended motion on his behalf, requesting that the condition requiring computer monitoring be removed and that his situation be reviewed in twelve months and, if deemed appropriate, all further conditions of release be eliminated. Am. Mot., Oct. 14, 2016, ECF No. 212.[2]

         By statute, the court has the authority at any time to modify or eliminate conditions of release of an acquittee, after a hearing and employing the same criteria used in determining his release on conditions. 18 U.S.C. § 4243(f). A hearing was held on the requests on February 28, 2017. Gagnon testified, as well as his mother, his supervising probation officer, and his mental health therapist.

         II.

         As an initial matter, counsel for Gagnon contends that the court has no authority to impose any condition other than the “prescribed regimen” condition expressly permitted by statute. I disagree.

         A person found not guilty by reason of insanity may be conditionally discharged from civil commitment if the director of the facility determines, and the court agrees, that the person “has recovered from his mental disease or defect to such an extent that . . . his conditional release under a prescribed regimen of medical, psychiatric, or psychological care or treatment, would no longer create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person.” 18 U.S.C. § 4243(f)(2). Under such circumstances, the court is required by law to “order, as an explicit condition ...


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