January 10, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
1:13-cv-01734-TWP-MJD - Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Rovner and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
time Denny Ray Anderson pleaded guilty to being a felon in
possession of a firearm, the district court had only a
general knowledge of Anderson's mental-health problems.
The court knew that Anderson had been diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic and that he was on psychotropic medication. But
it did not know what other illnesses Anderson had, what
medication he had been prescribed, and how the drugs affected
his functioning. The court also was unaware that Anderson had
only spotty access to his medication while in jail awaiting
trial. His appointed counsel, who had observed Anderson
behaving unusually at points since his detention began, never
requested a competence evaluation or hearing.
plea agreement prevented him from directly appealing his
conviction and sentence, but he was nonetheless entitled to
file a motion for collateral relief under 28 U.S.C. §
2255. He did so, supporting his motion with two arguments:
first, that he was not competent at the time of his guilty
plea because of his illnesses and the effects of the
medications he was taking; and second, that his attorney
provided constitutionally defective assistance for failing to
challenge his competence. The district court rejected his
petition outright. On appeal, he requests an evidentiary
hearing to develop facts related to these interrelated
claims. We agree that a hearing is appropriate.
mental health was a recurring theme in the underlying offense
for which he now seeks relief under section 2255. He was
indicted on October 19, 2011, for being a felon in possession
of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§
922(g)(1) and 924(e), a charge to which he ultimately pleaded
guilty. At the government's request, he was held in
Indiana's Marion County Jail pending trial. Although the
court had appointed Anderson counsel, he still filed several
pro se motions. In one, he asked the court to
dismiss his attorney because his attorney was "not
getting medical [r]ecords." Anderson also alleged that
his appointed lawyer had violated his constitutional rights
by seeking a continuance. His counsel resisted the request to
withdraw, but Anderson told the court that he would rather
represent himself than have this lawyer remain on the case.
hearing in February 2012, the court decided to grant
Anderson's request for a new lawyer. It appointed
attorney Jesse A. Cook to replace the first lawyer. About six
months later, on August 16, 2012, Anderson filed with
Cook's assistance a petition to enter a guilty plea. At
the same time, the parties submitted a written agreement that
provided Anderson would plead guilty in return for a sentence
of 15 years' imprisonment. In the deal, Anderson
expressly waived his right to bring a direct appeal from the
conviction and sentence. He did not waive his right to file
any kind of collateral attack.
district court held a change of plea hearing on August 27,
2012. At the start of the proceeding, the court called
Anderson and Cook to the lectern. The transcript reveals that
Anderson started to approach the podium but apparently
changed course. The court summoned him again: "Come
right here. Where are you going, Mr. Anderson?" Anderson
said nothing, but the government's attorney remarked:
"Ready to run around for a while." The court then
told Anderson, "You have to stay in here." That
ended the episode, and the court proceeded to obtain
in the hearing, the district court asked about Anderson's
Court: Have you been treated recently for any mental illness
or addictions to alcohol or narcotic drugs of any kind?
Anderson: I'm on psychotropic drugs right now.
Court: Okay. What's your diagnosis?
Anderson: Paranoid schizophrenia and a few other things. I
don't know ...