Appeal from the District Court of Rolette County, Northeast Judicial District, the Honorable Laurie A. Fontaine, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.
N.D. Supreme CourtInterest of L.D.M.,
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]
[Download as WordPerfect] Dissent filed.
Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice.
[¶1] L.D.M. appeals from a trial court order finding he remains a sexually dangerous individual and continuing his civil commitment in the care, custody, and control of the executive director of the Department of Human Services. We reverse and remand because the trial court did not make sufficient findings to permit appellate review.
[¶2] In 2004, L.D.M. was civilly committed as a sexually dangerous individual. We affirmed the order of commitment in Interest of L.D.M., 2005 ND 177, 704 N.W.2d 838. In December 2008, L.D.M. filed a petition for discharge to review his status as a sexually dangerous individual. In February 2009, Dr. Lynne Sullivan, a licensed psychologist at the North Dakota State Hospital and the State's expert, completed an annual evaluation of L.D.M. and recommended his continued commitment on the ground L.D.M. remains a sexually dangerous individual who is likely to engage in future acts of sexually predatory conduct. Additionally, Dr. Stacey Benson, a licensed psychologist and an independent expert, completed an evaluation of L.D.M. in October 2009. Dr. Benson opined L.D.M. remains a sexually dangerous individual who is likely to re-offend.
[¶3] The trial court held a discharge hearing on March 23, 2010, and received evidence, including testimony and reports from both experts. L.D.M. testified on his behalf and submitted a handwritten "Statement of Facts" and "Brief on Supporting Caselaw," which the trial court admitted as exhibits. After the hearing, the court issued an order denying L.D.M.'s petition for discharge. The court concluded:
Based on the agreement of both, the State expert and the independent expert, that [L.D.M.] remains a sexually dangerous offender and is likely to engage in further predatory acts, and that he has poor impulse control and difficulty controlling his behavior, the Court ORDERS [ ] [t]he petition for Discharge is denied and the respondent remains in the care, custody and control of the Executive Director of the Department of Human Services. L.D.M. timely appealed.
[¶4] We review civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals under a modified clearly erroneous standard of review. Matter of Midgett, 2010 ND 98, ¶ 6, 783 N.W.2d 27. The Court will affirm a trial court order denying a petition for discharge unless it is induced by an erroneous view of the law or the Court is firmly convinced the decision is not supported by clear and convincing evidence. Id. "At a discharge hearing, the State has the burden of proving by clear and convincing ...