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In the Matter of Darl John Hehn A.W. Stokes, Richland County v. Darl John Hehn

November 15, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF DARL JOHN HEHN A.W. STOKES, RICHLAND COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY, PETITIONER AND APPELLEE
v.
DARL JOHN HEHN, RESPONDENT AND APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of Richland County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable John T. Paulson, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

N.D. Supreme Court

Matter of Hehn, 2011 ND 214

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

[Download as WordPerfect] Dissent filed.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Opinion of the Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Darl John Hehn appealed from a district court order denying his petition for release from civil commitment as a sexually dangerous individual. We reverse and remand because the district court did not make sufficient findings to permit adequate appellate review.

I.

[¶2] In 2006, Hehn was civilly committed as a sexually dangerous individual under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.3, and this Court affirmed the commitment order. Matter of Hehn, 2008 ND 36, 745 N.W.2d 631. In June 2010, Hehn petitioned for release from civil commitment. The district court held a hearing on the petition on December 6, 2010. Both the State and Hehn presented expert testimony. Dr. Lynne Sullivan, the State's expert witness, testified that Hehn suffers from borderline personality disorder with antisocial features and paraphilia not otherwise specified (hebephilia), he has not completed sex offender treatment, he demonstrates difficulty controlling his behavior, and he is likely to engage in future sexually predatory conduct if he is released. Dr. Riedel, the independent evaluator, testified that Hehn suffers from major depression and mixed personality disorder, he shows the ability to control his sexual urges, and he has a low expectation of re-offending. The district court denied Hehn's petition for discharge, finding that clear and convincing evidence established Hehn "is a person who is a sexual offender, suffers from a mental disorder, and is likely to engage in sexually predatory conduct in the future."

II.

[¶3] We review the civil commitment of a sexually dangerous individual under a modified clearly erroneous standard. Interest of G.L.D., 2011 ND 52, ¶ 5, 795 N.W.2d 346. "We will affirm a district court's order denying a petition for discharge unless it is induced by an erroneous view of the law or we are firmly convinced it is not supported by clear and convincing evidence." Id.

[¶4] At a discharge hearing, the State must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the committed individual remains a sexually dangerous individual. N.D.C.C. § 25-03.3-18(4). To satisfy this burden, the State must show the individual has:

[1] engaged in sexually predatory conduct and . . . [2] has a congenital or acquired condition that is manifested by a sexual disorder, a personality disorder, or other mental disorder or dysfunction that [3] makes that individual likely to engage in further acts of sexually predatory conduct which constitute a danger to the physical or mental health or safety of others. N.D.C.C. § 25-03.3-01(8). "The phrase 'likely to engage in further acts of sexually predatory conduct' means the individual's propensity towards sexual violence is of such a degree as to pose a threat to others." Matter of E.W.F., 2008 ND 130, ¶ 10, 751 N.W.2d 686 (quoting Hehn, 2008 ND 36, ¶ 19, 745 N.W.2d 631). In addition to the three statutory requirements, the State must also prove that ...


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