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In re Hehn

Supreme Court of North Dakota

October 22, 2013

In the Matter of Darl John HEHN
v.
Darl John Hehn, Respondent and Appellant. A.W. Stokes, Richland County State's Attorney, Petitioner and Appellee

Page 470

Jonathan R. Byers, Special Assistant State's Attorney, Bismarck, N.D., for petitioner and appellee.

Jason R. Butts, Wahpeton, N.D., for respondent and appellant.

MARING, Justice.

[¶ 1] Darl Hehn appealed from an order denying his petition for discharge from

Page 471

civil commitment as a sexually dangerous individual and from an order delaying a hearing on a subsequent petition for discharge until twelve months had passed since the last discharge hearing. We affirm, concluding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Hehn remained a sexually dangerous individual and (2) the district court did not err in concluding Hehn was not entitled to another discharge hearing until twelve months had passed since the last discharge hearing.

I

[¶ 2] In 1997, Hehn pled guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of terrorizing. He was released from prison on supervised probation in 2003, but his probation was revoked and he was returned to prison in 2004. In 2006, Hehn was civilly committed as a sexually dangerous individual. See In re Hehn, 2008 ND 36, 745 N.W.2d 631.

[¶ 3] In June 2010, Hehn petitioned for discharge. Following a hearing in December 2010, the district court denied the petition. Hehn appealed, and this Court reversed and remanded for the district court to make additional findings of fact. In re Hehn, 2011 ND 214, 806 N.W.2d 189. On remand, the district court made additional findings and again denied the petition for discharge, and this Court affirmed on appeal. See In re Hehn, 2012 ND 191, 821 N.W.2d 385.

[¶ 4] In September 2011, while his 2010 petition for discharge was pending, Hehn filed a second petition for discharge. The district court stayed consideration of the 2011 petition until the 2010 petition was finally resolved. Hehn appealed the stay and our Court supervised, holding the district court must conduct an annual review on the 2011 petition. In re Hehn, N.D. Sup.Ct. No. 20120212 (N.D. May 16, 2012) (Order of Supervision). The district court held an evidentiary hearing on the 2011 petition on January 3, 2013. Both the State's expert witness and the independent expert concluded that Hehn remained a sexually dangerous individual at that time. Based on the experts' opinions, the district court found that Hehn remained a sexually dangerous individual and denied the 2011 petition for discharge.

[¶ 5] In December 2012, while the second petition for discharge was pending, Hehn filed a letter with the district court requesting an annual review, which the district court treated as a third petition for discharge. After the court entered its order on January 16, 2013, denying Hehn's second petition for discharge, Hehn sought a hearing on the third petition. The court concluded that, because Hehn had received an evidentiary hearing in January 2013 on his second petition for discharge, he was not entitled to another evidentiary hearing until January 2014. The court therefore, on April 11, 2013, entered an order denying an immediate hearing on the third petition and directing the parties to prepare for a hearing to be held after January 3, 2014.

II

[¶ 6] Hehn appealed from the district court order denying his second petition for discharge, alleging the State failed to present clear and convincing evidence that he is likely to engage in further sexually predatory conduct.

[¶ 7] We review civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals under a modified clearly erroneous standard of review. In re Graham, 2013 ND 171, ¶ 9, 837 N.W.2d 382; In re J.G., 2013 ND 26, ¶ 8, 827 N.W.2d 341; Hehn, 2011 ND 214, ¶ 3, 806 N.W.2d 189. We will affirm a district court's order denying a ...


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