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In re Johnson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 29, 2013

In the Interest of Jeremy Tim Johnson Christine A. Reierson Assistant State's Attorney, Petitioner and Appellee
v.
Jeremy Tim Johnson, Respondent and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Gary H. Lee, Judge.

Christene Ann Reierson, Assistant State's Attorney, Courthouse, for petitioner and appellee.

Ryan David Sandberg, for respondent and appellant.

OPINION

Crothers, Justice.

[¶ 1] Jeremy Tim Johnson appeals a district court order committing him to the custody of the Department of Human Services as a sexually dangerous individual. Johnson argues the district court clearly erred by finding he has a congenital or acquired disorder manifested as a sexual disorder or dysfunction. We affirm.

I

[¶ 2] On January 13, 2012, the State petitioned for commitment of Johnson as a sexually dangerous individual under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.3. The State alleged Johnson, born in 1974, engaged in sexually predatory conduct based on four incidents. On August 25, 1998, Johnson pled guilty to corruption of a minor, a class A misdemeanor, involving sexual contact between Johnson and a victim under fifteen years old and a sexual act with a fifteen-year-old victim. In May 2003, Johnson was charged with corruption or solicitation of a minor, a class C felony, involving a sexual act between Johnson and a sixteen-year-old victim. The matter was dismissed under a plea agreement in which Johnson pled guilty to harboring a runaway, a class A misdemeanor, involving Johnson hiding a sixteen-year-old girl who ran away from home. On November 26, 2008, Johnson pled guilty to sexual assault, a class C felony, involving a sexual act between Johnson and a sixteen-year-old victim.

[¶ 3] The district court held a hearing on August 21, 2012. Dr. Jennifer Krance, a forensic psychologist, testified as an expert witness for the State. Dr. Krance diagnosed Johnson with "Paraphilia, Not Otherwise Specified--Hebephilia, Non-exclusive Type, " antisocial personality disorder and alcohol abuse. She concluded that Johnson has a congenital or acquired condition manifested by a sexual disorder, a personality disorder or other mental disorder or dysfunction, that Johnson is likely to engage in further acts of sexually predatory misconduct and, therefore, that Johnson is a sexually dangerous individual. Dr. Joseph J. Plaud, a licensed psychologist and forensic examiner, was appointed as Johnson's independent expert and testified at the hearing. Dr. Plaud testified Johnson is not a sexually dangerous individual because Johnson does not have a sexual disorder, personality disorder or other mental disorder or dysfunction and Dr. Krance's diagnosis was incorrect.

[¶ 4] The district court found by clear and convincing evidence that Johnson met the statutory definition of a sexually dangerous individual because Johnson engaged in sexual predatory conduct, has a congenital or acquired disorder manifested by a sexual disorder or dysfunction and is likely to engage in further acts of sexually predatory conduct which constitute a danger to the physical or mental health or safety of others. Johnson appeals, arguing the district court erred by determining clear and convincing evidence established he has a congenital or acquired condition manifested by a sexual disorder or dysfunction.

II

[¶ 5] Our standard of review for civil commitment of a sexually dangerous individual is well-established:

"We review civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals under a modified clearly erroneous standard in which we will affirm a district court's order 'unless it is induced by an erroneous view of the law or we are firmly convinced the order is not supported by clear and convincing evidence.'"

In re Rubey, 2011 ND 165, ¶ 5, 801 N.W.2d 702 (quotation omitted). "The State must prove that the respondent is a sexually dangerous individual by clear and convincing evidence." Id.

"An individual may not be committed unless expert evidence is admitted establishing that the individual has a congenital or acquired condition that is manifested by a sexual disorder, a personality disorder, or other mental disorder or dysfunction that makes that individual ...

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