United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
W. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court are Hellerstedt's Second Amended Motion to
Dismiss (Dkt. No. 30); Plaintiffs' Response (Dkt. No.
31); and Hellerstedt's Reply (Dkt. No. 33). The District
Court referred the above motions to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the
Local Rules. The Court held a hearing on March 28, 2017.
case is a proposed class action brought on behalf of seven
currently incarcerated individuals, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The two purported classes are comprised of
individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity and
individuals found incompetent to stand trial, who assert
their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights are violated
when they are housed for prolonged periods in Texas jails
without adequate mental health treatment, while waiting for a
bed to open up in a Texas Department of State Health Services
facility. Defendant Dr. John Hellerstedt is currently the
duly appointed Commissioner of the Texas Department of State
Health Services and is sued in his official capacity.
Texas, when an individual charged with a crime is found
incompetent to stand trial, all criminal proceedings must
stop and the individual must be transferred to a Department
facility to be provided further examination and treatment
toward the specific objective of attaining competency to
stand trial. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 46B.004, 46B.071-073.
Persons found incompetent to stand trial and charged with a
“violent offense” must be transferred to the
maximum security unit designated by the Department. Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 46B.073(c).
individual is found not guilty by reason of insanity, the
individual stands acquitted of the offense charged and may
not be considered a person charged with an offense. Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 46C.155(a). If the court determines that the
acquittee's offense caused, placed another in, or
threatened serious bodily injury, the individual must, within
14 days, be transferred to the maximum security unit
designated by the Department for evaluation of the
person's present mental condition and for treatment. Tex.
Code Crim. Proc. art. 46C.157, 46C.251-252(a), and 46C.160.
Once transferred, the Department is required to evaluate the
acquittee for 30 days, Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 46C.251(a),
(d), after which the acquittee must be released if, after a
hearing, the State fails to prove by clear and convincing
evidence that the individual has a mental illness and is
dangerous. Id. at 46C.252-258.
argue that Hellerstedt's failure to timely accept
transfer of incompetent detainees and insanity acquittees to
Department facilities and provide timely restoration and
evaluative treatment forces Plaintiffs and members of the
classes they represent to remain incarcerated for weeks and
months in county jails without any of the treatment or
evaluation services that Hellerstedt and his Department are
statutorily required, and have been ordered, to provide.
Plaintiffs argue that because incompetent criminal defendants
have not been convicted of any crime and insanity acquittees
have been absolved of criminal responsibility, both classes
of persons have a liberty interest in freedom from
incarceration, and a liberty interest in the receipt of
restorative treatment. Plaintiffs seek a declaration of their
rights and an order enjoining Hellerstedt from violating
their rights. Plaintiffs assert that they are not seeking
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move to
dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6). In deciding a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
“[t]he court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true,
viewing them in the light most favorable to the
[nonmovant].” In re Katrina Canal Breaches
Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, 552 U.S.
1182 (2008). The Supreme Court has explained that a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter “to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
[nonmovant] pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the [movant] is liable for
the misconduct alleged.” Id.
Plaintiffs' Due Process Claim
parties spend a fair portion of their briefs arguing over the
framing of Plaintiffs' constitutional claim. Hellerstedt
insists that Plaintiffs are asserting that they have a stand
alone constitutional right to restorative treatment,
something that has not been recognized by the Supreme Court
or Fifth Circuit. Plaintiffs insist that they are not
asserting such a claim. The incompetent detainees'
pleadings include the following:
Criminal defendants who not been convicted and have been
adjudicated incompetent to stand trial have liberty interests
. . . in ...