United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2254
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
action, Petitioner Rahma Sheikh seeks relief pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 from her commitment to the custody of the
Commissioner of Health and Human Services, following a charge
of aggravated assault and a plea of not guilty/not criminally
responsible. (Petition, ECF No. 1; Attachment, ECF No.
1-3.) Petitioner argues it is “impossible to know
whether Petitioner entered a voluntary plea, ” because
the state court did not employ certain procedural safeguards
at the hearing. (Reply, ECF No. 11 at 2; Petition at 5.) More
specifically, Petitioner argues that because a state
psychologist, approximately one week before the plea,
concluded Petitioner was only minimally competent, and
because competency can fluctuate between the time of a
pre-hearing evaluation and a hearing, due process requires an
evaluation or assessment immediately before the plea is
entered to ensure the plea is knowing and voluntary. (Reply
at 2.) The State asks the Court to deny relief, and dismiss
the petition. (Response, ECF No. 3.)
a review of the record, the petition, and the State's
response, I recommend the Court grant the State's
request, and dismiss the petition.
Factual Background and Procedural History
was indicted in October 2012 for aggravated assault (Class
B), 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(B). (State v. Sheikh,
No. CUMCD-CR-2012-06014 Unified Criminal Docket (Cumberland
Cty., Oct. 5, 2012), Indictment, Docket Record at 2.) The
indictment alleged that Petitioner caused bodily injury by
use of a knife. (Indictment.)
court held a hearing on February 7, 2013, at which hearing
the court found, based on an undisputed forensic report dated
February 1, 2013, that there was a factual basis for a plea
of not guilty/not criminally responsible by reason of
insanity, and that Petitioner was competent to enter the
plea. (Hearing Tr. at 1, 3-4, 8-9.) The discussion and
colloquy included the following:
THE COURT: It's true, you don't want a trial? You
don't want a jury trial? You don't want the right to
contest the State's charge?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah.
THE COURT: All right. And so what I also have to find out -
I'm assuming, does anyone think I need - we need to do
the full Rule 11 under these circumstances? I'm assuming
that all we need to do is make sure that [counsel] has
explained those rights - since no one's contesting this,
that [counsel] has explained those rights, that Ms. Shelkh
understands those rights, and that she understands the
implications of this plea, of the not criminally responsible
[COUNSEL]: I think that's accurate.
. . .
THE COURT: Okay. So, Ms. Shelkh, here's all I have to
tell you, is that, and I know [counsel] has almost certainly
already told you this, that by pleading not criminally
responsible and having that plea accepted without it - by the
Court, and with no objection from the State, the result will
be you'll go back to Riverview - THE DEFENDANT: Uh-huh.
THE COURT: -- Psychiatric Center.
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: And you - they will be keeping you there and
offering treatment and evaluation. And how long you will
remain there is unclear; it could ...