October 22nd, 2017
Louisiana v. Noel
Opinion Date: October 18, 2017
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
In 2011, a Lafayette police officer investigating a possible car burglary, stopped defendant Calvin Noel, III, who was walking down the middle of the road. As the officer patted him down, defendant told him that he “had a gun in his hip.” The officer determined from his computerized database system that defendant had prior felony convictions so he confiscated the gun and arrested him for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant was charged by bill of information with possession of a firearm by a person convicted of certain felonies, to which he pleaded not guilty. Pursuant to defendant’s pretrial motion, a sanity commission was appointed to determine his competency to proceed as well as offer an opinion as to his sanity at the time of the offense. The two members of the sanity commission agreed that defendant was competent despite his chronic paranoid schizophrenia. They noted his history of repeated psychiatric hospitalizations and his paranoia, grandiosity, and impulsivity. They also noted his tattoos (which included “insane” on his right hand and “crazy” on the left). The trial court found defendant competent to proceed. A jury would ultimately find defendant guilty as charged. Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in prison at hard labor without parole, and fined him $2,500. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, finding defendant produced "an indicia of insanity" and the district court erred in finding good cause was not shown because defendant was engaging in a dilatory tactic because he changed his plea (from "not guilty" to "not guilty by reason of insanity"). Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal, vacated the conviction and sentence, and remanded for a new trial.
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