BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge has ordered a man who requested to be publicly flogged instead of being imprisoned to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock on Tuesday ordered Domingos Nobrega, 34, of Bangor to “be an active and cooperative participant in the examination.”
Nobrega, who legally changed his name from Shawn Alan Nobrega to Domingos Nobrega, was convicted in May by a federal jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
In late November, Nobrega filed a motion “asking for 2 lashes for every year given to him as sentence to be imposed upon him.” The defendant acknowledged in his motion that flogging would be prohibited under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
“The defendant does not want to be part of the 2.5 million people locked up in the United States prison system and be part of a prison statistic,” Nobrega wrote. “The defendant feels he will benefit and learn more of why not to break the United States laws and will remember it if he is granted this type of sent[e]nce of corp[o]ral punishment or public flogging.”
On Jan. 12, Nobrega’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, filed a motion for a competency hearing and psychiatric evaluation. Silverstein cited his client’s request for the flogging in support of the motion for a hearing and evaluation.
Silverstein also cited Nobrega’s erratic behavior, including:
• His refusal to communicate with the court through his attorney and to stop filing motions himself.
• His inability or unwillingness to cooperate with U.S. Probation and Pre-Trial Services in the completion of the standard Pre-Sentence Report, which Woodcock would use as aid in sentencing Nobrega.
Silverstein also said that Nobrega more than once threatened to fire him, then apologized. Nobrega also told his attorney to stop sending him documents related to the case because reading them upset him.
“The defendant’s communications have left counsel feeling he is depressed and despondent and may suffer from [a mental health disorder],” the defense attorney wrote in the motion.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy, who is prosecuting the case, did not object to the motion.
A competency hearing and sentencing will not be scheduled until after the psychiatric evaluation has been completed, most likely at an out-of-state facility. There are no federal prisons or hospitals in Maine.
Nobrega has been held without bail since he was taken into custody early on Oct. 24, 2010, at his apartment at 751 Main St. in Bangor after a standoff with police. State charges related to that incident are pending. He was arrested two days later upon his release from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Hospital in Bangor.
Federal Public Defender Virginia Villa was Nobrega’s first attorney and handled his trial. After he was convicted in May, Nobrega asked for a new attorney. Before Silverstein was appointed, Nobrega filed several motions on his own and sent Woodcock letters, including a narrative he called his life history.
Nobrega faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.