DRNC-Written Exercise 6
Objective: Apply psycho-legal knowledge and skills foundations in the practice of forensic psychology.
The following story is a fictional account of an incident that occurred during the mythical DemocraticRepublican National Convention (DRNC) event in Miami, Florida. The story is loosely based on an
amalgamation of real life occurrences during the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in Miami,
Florida in 2003. The names of all the characters in the story are fictional.
The DRNC had been planned for over a year, and was expected to take almost an entire week in the
middle of August. The first three days of the event had been relatively uneventful, and only a few minor
skirmishes between the police and protestors had broken out. So far, only five event-related
misdemeanor arrests had been made. It wasn’t until Thursday, the fourth day of the convention that the
crowd size had peaked to approximately 10,000 demonstrators.
Although many of the protestors shared similar political concerns including environmental, “fair trade” and
anti-globalization issues, this crowd of 10,000 was certainly not a monolithic entity. It was comprised of a
mix of union workers from the Teamsters Union and the AFL-CIO; environmentalist organizations such as
Greenpeace; animal rights organizations such as PETA; and human rights organizations such as
Mixed in with these mostly peaceful protestors were approximately 400 “Black Bloc” groups and
Anarchists. For the police, it was easy to tell them apart from the other protestors because these violent
protestors wore mostly black clothing and dressed as if they were expecting a fight with the police. Many
came wearing gas masks, padding, and were armed with slingshots and Super Soaker water guns.
Though small in numbers in relation to the large peaceful crowd of protestors, these Black Bloc groups
tended to intermix into the larger crowds and thus gave the appearance of a larger and more menacing
threat to the police. Although many of these groups shared similar political agendas, there was an
uneasy alliance between the violent protestors and the peaceful ones. The union protestors were mostly
middle aged men and women who wanted nothing to do with the violent Black Bloc protestors (who
tended to be young men and women in their early 20s and 30s). Nevertheless, these disparate groups
accepted each other, as their mere presence provided both a force multiplying effect, and a relative safety
from the police Mobile Field Force arrest teams.
It was on Thursday that the skirmishes between the police and the protestors had finally reached its
expected crescendo. That day, Miami-Dade Police and Miami Police combined to make over 65 arrests
for various misdemeanors and felonies. The arrests ranged from non-violent acts such as failure to
disperse, vandalism, and loitering and prowling, to more serious felonies such as arson, aggravated
assault and strong armed robbery.
The MDPD field forces had been trained to discriminately pick out the violent protestors from the peaceful
ones. It is legal to demonstrate peacefully, but it is not legal to start fires, throw deadly projectiles at the
police, or destroy the property of private businesses. While it is relatively easy to discern which group is
which (due to the different colored clothing that each wears), it is much harder surgically extract the
violent groups out from the larger non-violent groups. The police field forces had become very proficient
at separating and dispersing the large crowds and then targeting the law breaking violent groups. This
was done over the course of the entire week of demonstrations and the tactic required a great deal of
patience on the part of the police field force commanders.
Amid all this turmoil involving 10,000 protestors and approximately 3,000 law enforcement personnel from
over 20 different federal, state, and local agencies, a brief encounter between a lone police officer and a
lone protestor occurred far from the center of the event. Officer James Doherty of the Miami-Dade Police
Department had been temporarily been assigned to patrol the area around the Richard Gerstein Justice
Building where the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida was housed. This courthouse was in near
proximity to the Dade County Jail, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office, Jackson
Memorial Hospital, and Cedars of Lebanon Hospital all within a five square block area called The Civic
Center. The Civic Center is located approximately two miles away from the American Airlines Arena, the
epicenter of the DRNC in Downtown Miami. The AAA arena itself was considered a high security area
that required the people inside to carry government issued credentials. The estimated 10,000 protestors
were kept at a safe distance from the politicians and delegates attending the convention. However, the
buildings in the Civic Center were not protected by fences. Only a squad of 10 patrol officers were
assigned there to make sure that no protests would break out.
Up until now, most of the clashes between the police and protestors had occurred in the Downtown area,
and the Civic Center area had remained relatively quiet. However, by late afternoon on Thursday, reports
from intelligence officers on the ground and on rooftops had several dozen protestors starting to converge
around the jail, where the majority of the previously arrested protestors were being held in detention. It
was in this scene… far from the main action that Officer Doherty and a young protestor named Nicholas
Rux would confront each other.
Officer Doherty walked to the east side of the Dade County Jail, where the intelligence officers on the
nearby building rooftops were reporting that seven or eight young white males had dispersed from a
“privacy circle” in the parking lot of the Public Defender’s Office and all had walked in different directions.
Privacy circles are like huddles in football, wherein the protestors get together to discuss their next
moves. The intelligence officers also reported that they observed some of the white male subjects putting
rocks and bottles into their backpacks.
As Doherty approached, he observed a tall white male subject wearing a baseball cap and carrying a
backpack on his back. As the subject made eye contact with Doherty, he turned around and started
walking away. Officer Doherty called out, “hey you… stop right there!”
The subject ignored Doherty’s order and continued to walk away at an increasingly brisk pace. Doherty
called on his police radio and advised the dispatcher, “I have a tall blonde, white male, wearing a baseball
cap and a backpack fleeing from me on foot… he’s running eastbound toward 12th Avenue.”
The dispatcher responded on the radio, “What’s the reference on the subject running from you?”
“I’m not sure… I think he may be one of the subjects that the Intelligence Units advised earlier that were
filling their backpacks with rocks and bottles,” replied Doherty.
Doherty briefly ran after the tall white male, but then suddenly and unexpectedly, the subject stopped
running and turned toward Doherty. “Stop right there! Let me see your hands,” barked Doherty.
The white male subject put his hands above his head like in the movies and held his palms out as if to
give up. As Officer Doherty got closer to the subject, he noticed that the young white male’s hands were
trembling in a very noticeable way. That’s when Doherty realized that the subject was a young kid…
probably no older than 18 years old… but very tall… at least 6’ 4”… and giving the initial appearance of a
much older person. “Son… relax… I’m not here to hurt you,” said Doherty to the young male subject.
Doherty immediately sensed that this subject was not the big bad Anarchist that he first thought he was
encountering. This subject was nothing more than a tall gangly little kid, who was scared out of his mind.
Doherty asked the subject, “What’s in the backpack?”
The question was met with total silence. The kid’s hands were shaking. He appeared to be extremely
frightened. “Son, I’m not going to hurt you… I just need to check your backpack to make sure you don’t
have any weapons. You don’t mind if I check your backpack do you?” The subject did not respond.
Then Doherty said, “Open it for me… slowly.”
The gangly tall white male subject unzipped the backpack and handed it to Officer Doherty. Doherty
opened it and looked for the rocks or bottles that were reported by the surveillance officers on the
rooftops. He found none. Instead he found a backpack full of papers, spray paint, magic markers, and
several books. Among those books were Leon Trotsky’s The Russian Revolution, Mao Tse Tung’s The
Art of War, and an Anarchist book titled T.A.Z. – Temporary Autonomous Zone.
Doherty realized that this tall gangly white male with the backpack was nothing more than a terrified little
kid. In fact, he reminded him of his own teenage son. Doherty sensed that the boy posed no immediate
danger to him and he tried to set him at ease. “Where are you from son?”
There was no response from the subject. Doherty continued, “Look… I’m not here to mess with you… I
just need to make sure that you’re not here to destroy my city. Where are you from?”
Again, there was no response from the terrified subject. “Do you have any photo ID with you?” asked
Doherty. Again there was no response, and Doherty reached over and pulled an ID card out of one of the
compartments in the backpack. The name on the ID was Nicholas Rux. It was a high school ID card
from a town in Wisconsin. The date of birth on the ID card indicated that Nicholas was only 18 years
old… as Doherty had suspected.
“You’re from Wisconsin?” asked Doherty. Before the kid could answer Doherty went on, “What’s a kid
from Wisconsin doing all the way down here in Miami?” Once more, the subject did not answer.
As Officer Doherty continued to rifle through the subject’s backpack, he pulled out a small prescription
medicine container with the name Nicholas Rux on it. The prescription was for a medicine named
Lamictal. There were seven pills inside the medicine container. “Is this your medicine?” asked Doherty.
Again, no response from the subject. Doherty continued to look inside the backpack… ostensibly for the
rocks and bottles, or any other weapons that the subject may have hidden inside. It was then that he
pulled out a switchblade knife from one of the compartments. “Is this yours?”
Once more, the subject did not respond to Doherty’s questions. “Son… if you’re not going to answer any
of my questions, you’re not going to allay my fears. Therefore, I’m going to have to take you to jail. Put
your hands behind your back.”
The young tall boy put his hands behind his back, at which point Officer Doherty handcuffed him. Doherty
then walked back to his police car and after patting the subject down to make sure he had no weapons on
his body, placed him in the back seat cage of the vehicle.
As Officer Doherty drove to the station, he heard the boy say, “No, I don’t know him. If I did, I would not
have let him look in the bag.” Officer Doherty was surprised and asked him what he meant by that
statement. The boy was again silent. After several minutes, the boy then angrily exclaimed, “No you don’t.
If you do we’ll all be in trouble.” Officer Doherty saw in the mirror that the boy was looking to his left as he
made a face suggesting to whisper. The boy then fugitively glanced in the mirror, catching the officer’s
eyes. He then looked to his left and made a nodding motion, as if to tell a person next to him that they
were being watched.
Shortly thereafter, Officer Doherty completed the arrest affidavit and charged Nicholas Rux with
Loitering/Prowling and Carrying a Concealed Weapon. Further investigation later revealed that Nicholas
Rux had been one of two subjects who had attacked the Senator from Wisconsin as he was giving an
interview with a Fox News reporter on live television at Miami International Airport the day before. Rux
and another subject had attacked the Senator with a red dye sprayed from a Super Soaker” water gun,
and the entire incident had been captured on camera. Rux and the other subject were able to flee after
that incident and avoided arrest on that day. But since the entire incident had been captured on
videotape, he was positively identified as one of the attackers. Therefore, Officer Doherty wrote the
additional criminal charge of aggravated battery to the arrest affidavit. Unlike the previous two charges
which were only misdemeanors, the aggravated battery was a felony.
Rux was transported to the nearby Dade County Jail, where he was booked on felony and misdemeanor
charges and was held for an arraignment the next morning. Subsequent to that, he was formally charged
with the felony aggravated battery statute by an information filed by an assistant State Attorney. Rux was
assigned a Public Defender and is now awaiting disposition of the criminal charges filed against him.
Records from Wisconsin indicate that Rux had been hospitalized on at least one occasion for what had
been termed a “Brief Psychotic Episode.” The hospitalization stemmed from a domestic violence call. Rux
was on the front lawn of his home yelling to his parents inside that they needed to escape from the house
before it became “infected.” He was hospitalized for eight days and placed on medications.
For the purpose of this assignment,
Your job is to determine the subject’s competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility as a result of
the criminal charges pending against him in criminal court.
The competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility should be submitted as two separate reports. In
each report, indicate what additional information is needed, what standard will be used to make the
determination, and what assessment procedures will be used. Also, indicate the likely recommendation to
the court regarding the psychological issue (competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility).
You are to prepare a written report back to the court that details your recommended course of action in
regard to this case. Your paper should be a minimum of 2400 words.
Submit your paper to the Assignment box and attach your paper in a post to the DRNC-Written Exercise
6 Discussion Board no later than Saturday 11:59 PM EST/EDT. (This Assignment box is linked to
To complete this assignment, you will respond logically to at least three of your classmates’ papers. Each
of your responses is to be at least 100 words in length and can be based solely on your opinion. Refer to
the syllabus for additional guidance. You must post your responses no later than Sunday 11:59 PM
DRNC-Written Exercise 6