In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of: James Allen Martin.

Annotate this Case
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of: James Allen Martin. A04-1634, Court of Appeals Unpublished, February 15, 2005.

This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A04-1634

 

 

In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:

James Allen Martin

 

 

Filed February 15, 2005

Affirmed

Toussaint, Chief Judge

 

Anoka County District Court

File No. PX-01-9959

    Gregory R. Solum, 7625 Metro Boulevard, Suite 140, Edina, MN 55439 (for appellant)

 

John L. Kirwin, Adult Services Section, A-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)

 

 

            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

            James Allen Martin challenges his commitment as a sexually dangerous person under Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c (2004).  Martin argues that (1) the requirements for commitment as a sexually dangerous person are not met, and (2) because he never engaged in criminal sexual conduct, Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 7(a), 18(c) (2002) are unconstitutional as applied to him.  We affirm.

FACTS

            The factual background for this case is set forth in In re Civil Commitment of Martin, 661 N.W.2d 632 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Aug. 5, 2003) (Martin I).  In Martin I, Anoka County challenged the district court's denial of its petition to commit appellant James Allen Martin as a sexually dangerous person (SDP).  This court reversed, concluding that (1) Martin's stalking and harassing behavior was "harmful sexual conduct" within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a (2002) because it was "motivated by sexual impulses" and "created a substantial likelihood of serious emotional harm" to his victims, and (2) Martin's personality disorder did not allow him to adequately control his harmful sexual impulses and behavior.  Martin I, 661 N.W.2d at 638-39.  This court then remanded to the district court "to determine the likelihood of [Martin's] future harmful sexual acts."  Id. at 640.  This court also rejected Martin's argument that Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 7a, 18c are unconstitutional as applied to him because they are void for vagueness and because they violate substantive due process, procedural due process, double jeopardy, and equal protection.  Id. at 640-41. 

On remand, the district court reopened the record.  A second trial took place on October 2, 2003.  Forensic psychologist Paul Reitman, Ph.D., testified that he had revised his opinion and now believed that Martin was highly likely to engage in further sexually motivated stalking behavior.  On cross-examination, Dr. Reitman clarified that he still believed Martin had a low likelihood of actually raping or molesting, and that the "only change in [his] opinion . . . is that [Martin] is likely to stalk."  Forensic psychologist James Gilbertson, Ph.D., testified at the first trial that Martin is highly likely to commit future harmful sexual conduct, including sexually motivated stalking and physical sexual assault, but he did not re-testify at the second trial.

On January 2, 2004, the district court issued an order committing Martin to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) as a SDP.  The district court concluded that all four elements of an SDP case were established by clear and convincing evidence.  Namely, that: (1) Martin had engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct in the past; (2) Martin presently manifested a sexual, personality, or other disorder; (3) Martin lacks adequate control over his harmful sexual impulses and/or has serious difficulty controlling his harmful sexual behavior; and (4) because of elements (1), (2), and (3), Martin is "highly likely" to engage in harmful sexual conduct in the future if not committed.  The district court issued extensive findings, conclusions, and a memorandum supporting this decision on May 20, 2004. 

On February 26, 2004, MSOP staff filed a 60-day report recommending long-term treatment at MSOP, and a review hearing was held on June 23, 2004.  On July 6, 2004, the district court concluded that "[t]here is clear and convincing evidence that Martin continues to meet all of the statutory requirements for commitment as an SDP under Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c (2002)."  The court then issued a final order committing Martin as a SDP for an indeterminate term.  Furthermore, the court addressed Martin's motions, filed June 16, 2004, and concluded that (1) Martin was not entitled to a new trial under Minn. R. Civ. P. 59.01(a), "either with or without a jury," (2) neither the county nor the court had discriminated against Martin based on his race, and (3) this court had already rejected most of Martin's arguments concerning whether the SDP law was unconstitutional on its face as applied to him and that this court's decision was binding.  This appeal follows.  

D E C I S I O N

I.

 

Whether the record supports the standards for commitment is a question of law, which we review de novo.  In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995).  We will not reverse a district court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01; In re Joelson, 385 N.W.2d 810, 811 (Minn. 1986).

To commit a person as a sexually dangerous person (SDP), the petitioner must prove four elements.  Under the SDP statute, the petitioner must prove that the person (1) has engaged in a course of "harmful sexual conduct," as defined in Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a (2004); (2) has manifested a sexual, personality, or other mental disorder or dysfunction; and (3) as a result, is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c(a) (2004).  Under case law, the petitioner must also prove a fourth element: that the person has a "present disorder or dysfunction [that] does not allow them to adequately control their sexual impulses, making it highly likely that they will engage in harmful sexual acts in the future."  In re Linehan, 594 N.W.2d 867, 876 (Minn. 1999) (Linehan IV).  These elements must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.  Minn. Stat. §§ 253B.18, subd. 1(a), .185, subd 1 (2004).  

A.         "Harmful Sexual Conduct" Element

            Martin argues that because he did not have physical sexual contact with his victims, his conduct does not fit the statutory definition of "harmful sexual conduct."  But this court rejected this identical argument in Martin I, concluding that Martin's sexually motivated stalking behavior constituted "harmful sexual conduct" within the meaning the SDP statute.[1]  In re Civil Commitment of Martin, 661 N.W.2d 632, 639 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Aug. 5, 2003) (Martin I).  Because there has been no substantial change in the evidence or the applicable law since that decision, and we conclude the decision is not clearly erroneous, we decline to re-examine this issue.  Peterson v. BASF Corp., 675 N.W.2d 57, 65-66 (Minn. 2004) (stating that under law-of-the-case doctrine, courts do not typically review prior decisions as a matter of policy, but may do so if there has been a change in law or a change in evidence that makes reconsideration necessary).  See In re Welfare of M.D.O., 462 N.W.2d 370, 375 (Minn. 1990) (stating that "when a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision should continue to govern the same issues in subsequent stages in the same case" (emphasis omitted) (quotation omitted).

B.                 "Highly Likely" Element

 

            Martin also challenges the district court's conclusion, on remand, that his present disorder does not allow him to adequately control his sexual impulses, making it highly likely that he will engage in harmful sexual acts in the future.  Martin argues that the evidence as a whole does not support the district court's conclusion.  Martin's argument is unsupported by the record.

            The uncontroverted testimony of Drs. Gilbertson and Reitman establishes that Martin has a present personality disorder.  Martin I did not alter that finding, and the parties do not appear to challenge it.  Furthermore, Martin I specifically determined that Martin lacks the ability to adequately control his harmful sexual impulses and behavior.  Martin I, 661 N.W.2d at 639.  Consequently, the only issue on remand was whether Martin's inability to control his sexual impulses made it "highly likely" that he would engage in harmful sexual conduct in future.  Id. at 639-40. 

We conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence establishing that Martin is highly likely to re-offend.  First, Dr. Reitman opined at the second trial that Martin is "highly likely" to engage in sexually motivated stalking, which constitutes harmful sexual conduct.  See id. at 639 (stating that sexually motivated stalking constitutes harmful sexual conduct under the SDP statute).  Although Dr. Reitman initially opined that Martin was "merely likely" to engage in future sexually motivated stalking, the district court found that Dr. Reitman's change in opinion was directly attributable to his determination that Martin belonged in the "ex-partner" group of stalkers, a group that is much more likely to stalk again, based on Martin's perception that J.V. and J.C. were his "girlfriends."  The court then explicitly found that Dr. Reitman did not arbitrarily change his opinion just to keep Martin incarcerated, but rather, he had a continuing professional interest in stalking behavior, had consulted a number of knowledgeable people on the subject, and had re-visited the literature about studies of stalking behavior.  The court then concluded that Dr. Reitman's "re-classification" of Martin as an ex-partner stalker was not "very dramatic" because the factual record from the first trial "fully supported" that classification.  

Second, Dr. Gilbertson opined at the first trial that Martin was "highly likely to re-offend, both with physical sexual assault [and] especially with sexually-motivated stalking."  As the district court noted, both experts now agree that Martin is highly likely to sexually re-offend.  Additionally, the district court specifically found that these two experts were "well-credentialed, veteran predictors of future dangerousness by sex offenders."  The district court then stated that while Dr. Reitman characterized Martin's thoughts toward J.V. as "fantasies," rather than actual plans, Dr. Gilbertson was "clearly correct" in concluding that Martin "had clear plans to rape and murder J.V."  The court also agreed with Dr. Gilbertson's conclusion that Martin had failed to demonstrate remorse for his conduct.  The district court then concluded that because it was correct to classify Martin as an ex-partner stalker, he was not only more likely to stalk again, but also to "commit rape and sexually-motivated murder."  This finding was consistent with Martin I, Dr. Gilbertson's testimony at the first trial, and with Dr. Reitman's testimony at the second trial that ex-partner stalkers are generally more likely to rape and murder their victims.

Finally, the district court considered the so-called Linehan factors, which are used "in predicting serious danger to the public" under the sexual psychopathic personality (SPP) law.  See In re Linehan, 518 N.W.2d 609, 614 (Minn. 1994) (Linehan I).  Those factors are: (1) relevant demographic characteristics; (2) history of violent behavior; (3) base rate statistics for violent behavior; (4) sources of stress in the environment; (5) similarity of present and future contexts to past contexts in which violence was used, and (6) record with regard to sex therapy programs.  Id.

Martin argues that because the Linehan factors use the terms "violent" or "violence," it was inappropriate for the court to "re-cast" the factors to include harmful sexual conduct.  Martin appears to argue that these factors can only be used in determining whether persons convicted of physically violent sexual assaults may be committed.  We disagree. 

In Linehan III, the supreme court specifically held that the six Linehan I factors for predicting danger in a SPP commitment may also used to determine the likelihood of future harm in a SDP commitment.  In re Linehan, 557 N.W.2d 171, 189 (Minn. 1996) (Linehan III), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 522 U.S. 1011, 118 S. Ct. 596 (1997), aff'd as modified, 594 N.W.2d 867 (Minn. 1999).  Furthermore, in In re Robb, 622 N.W.2d 564 (Minn. App. 2001), this court stated:

Unlike the sexual-psychopathic-personality statute, which has been construed by the supreme court to require a showing that a person's behavior is violent in order to demonstrate that the person is dangerous to other persons, the sexually dangerous person statute does not require a showing of violence.  Instead, the statute requires a showing that the person "is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct."  Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c(3).  And the statute defines "harmful sexual conduct" as "sexual conduct that creates a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm to another."  Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a(a).  It does not require that the sexual conduct be violent. Therefore, a showing of violent behavior is not required to show that it is highly likely that [a person] will engage in harmful sexual acts in the future.

 

Id. at 573 (emphasis added).  Here, as this court determined in Martin I, the record supports the conclusion that Martin's acts created a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm.  Thus, the district court did not err by applying the Linehan I factors in this case.

Based on Drs. Gilbertson and Reitman's testimony at the first trial, and Dr. Reitman's testimony at the second trial, the district court made extensive findings supporting its conclusion that overall, the Linehan factors demonstrated that Martin is highly likely to sexually re-offend.  The court gave the greatest weight to the sixth factor, and found that the fourth and fifth factors were "nearly as important."  Moreover, the court specifically explained why the factors in Martin's favor did not "detract from [its] overall evaluation."  We conclude that the district court properly followed Linehan I and evaluated evidence pertaining to each of the six factors, and that its decision to "isolate the most important factors in predicting harmful sexual conduct" was consistent with Linehan III.  See Linehan III, 557 N.W.2d at 189.  We also conclude that the district court's reasoning is amply supported by the expert testimony presented, and therefore, its findings are not clearly erroneous.  Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not err in finding that Martin is highly likely to engage in harmful sexual conduct in the future.

II.

            Martin argues that Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 7a, 18c (2004) are unconstitutional as applied to him because they are void for vagueness and because they violate substantive due process, procedural due process, double jeopardy, and equal protection.  This court addressed these identical arguments in Martin I and rejected them as being without merit.  See Martin I, 661 N.W.2d at 640-41.  We decline to reexamine these issues under the law-of-the-case doctrine.  See Kornberg, 525 N.W.2d at 18.  Furthermore, to the extent appellant is attempting to present new arguments on these issues in this appeal, we decline to address those arguments because they were not presented to the district court.  See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (recognizing that this court will not review an issue raised generally before the district court, but argued under a new theory on appeal).     

III.

            Lastly, Martin argues that he was entitled to a jury trial based on the civil jury trial guarantee in the Minnesota Constitution, art. 1, § 4, and under federal due process.  But Minnesota courts have rejected this argument and have held that the state constitution does not guarantee a right to a jury trial in a civil commitment proceeding.  See, e.g., State ex rel. Pearson v. Probate Ct., 205 Minn. 556-57, 287 N.W. 297, 303 (1939), aff'd 309 U.S. 270, 60 S. Ct. 523 (1940); Joelson v. O'Keefe, 594 N.W.2d 905, 910 (Minn. App. 1999).  Furthermore, the Eighth Circuit has held that federal due process does not require a jury trial before a person is committed as a SPP or SDP under Minnesota law.  Poole v. Goodno, 335 F.3d 705, 710-11 (8th Cir. 2003).  Based on the established state and federal case law, we conclude that the district court did not violate Martin's constitutional rights by rejecting his request for a jury trial in this civil commitment proceeding.

            Affirmed.


[1] The district court initially concluded that Martin's conduct against J.V. constituted harmful sexual conduct, but that his conduct with regard to J.C. did not.  In Martin I, this court concluded that Martin's conduct toward both J.V. and J.C. constituted harmful sexual conduct within the meaning of the statute.