The federal government wants to make public a recent psychological examination of former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long, an exam commissioned by his defense attorney that asserts Mr. Long is “capable of being influenced by manipulative conduct.”
Defense attorney Jerry Summers already has filed the sealed record with the court, hoping results of the exam and allegations that investigators “conned” Mr. Long into committing a drug crime will sway a federal judge to be lenient when sentencing the former sheriff.
“A strong public policy for transparency in criminal proceedings” calls for the psychological exam to be made public, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble.
He did not give a definitive answer whether details of a separate local “public corruption case” — which Mr. Summers alleges is ongoing and is what led the FBI to focus on Mr. Long’s criminal activities in the first place — should be made public as well.
“We’ll see about that,” Mr. Humble said Friday after a hearing in which Mr. Long appeared clean-shaven and shackled.
According to court documents, Mr. Summers said he plans to take up the issue of the alleged public corruption probe in a sealed document, but only because he doesn’t want to “prejudice any ongoing investigation.”
Without specifically referencing Mr. Summers’ intent, U.S. District Judge Harry S. “Sandy” Mattice said the defense attorney would have grounds for making “other things” public in light of the government’s wish to expose details of Mr. Long’s psychological exam.
“I guess you could argue what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Judge Mattice told a full courtroom.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Lee is set to rule soon on the issue of releasing Mr. Long’s psychological exam.
During the two-hour hearing, the prosecution and defense argued whether things such as Mr. Long’s mental state and that of the government’s confidential informant, the Rev. Eugene Overstreet, who helped the FBI in a year-long sting operation, should be used as mitigating factors when Mr. Long is sentenced Oct. 27.
Judge Mattice said Friday he would rule later on whether to force Mr. Overstreet to undergo a similar psychological evaluation, but he questioned why it’s an issue.
“I understand how Mr. Long’s psychological state would figure into (sentencing),” Judge Mattice said. “But can’t I just assume (the Rev. Overstreet) is the most persuasive man who ever lived?”
After rolling his eyes several times during a viewing of video footage that showed Mr. Long and Mr. Overstreet laughing, hugging and making plans to smuggle drug money from Mexico in funeral urns, Mr. Summers said the government used nothing but “sentencing entrapment, sentencing manipulation and outrageous conduct” to get Mr. Long to participate in his most serious drug-dealing offense.
Judge Mattice said such defenses never have been validated in any other court to garner less prison time for defendants, adding that Mr. Summers has a “high hurdle” to overcome.
“Mr. Long apparently showed a willingness to participate in what he believed was some pretty pervasive drug dealing,” Judge Mattice said. “For him to allow himself to be drawn into that, I just don’t get.”
Mr. Long faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars based solely on one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. In May, he pleaded guilty to 27 crimes involving money laundering, extortion, gun and drug charges.