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In re Byers

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 30, 2016

In the Interest of Raymond Voisine Jonathan Byers, Special Assistant State's Attorney, Petitioner and Appellee
v.
Raymond J. Voisine, Respondent and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Jonathan R. Byers, Special Assistant State's Attorney, Office of the Attorney General, petitioner and appellee.

          Kent M. Morrow, for respondent and appellant.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] Raymond Voisine appealed a district court order finding he remains a sexually dangerous individual and denying his petition for discharge from the North Dakota State Hospital. We affirm.

         I.

         [¶ 2] Stemming from his conviction of gross sexual imposition in 2008, the State petitioned to commit Voisine to the state hospital as a sexually dangerous individual under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.3.

         [¶ 3] Voisine's actions, leading to his civil commitment as a sexually dangerous individual, have resulted in six previous appeals to this Court. See Voisine v. State, 2008 ND 91, 748 N.W.2d 429 (reversing and vacating revocation of probation in postconviction proceeding); Matter of Voisine, 2010 ND 17, 777 N.W.2d 908 (reversing commitment as sexually dangerous individual and remanding for further proceedings); Interest of Voisine, 2010 ND 241, 795 N.W.2d 38 (summarily affirming commitment as sexually dangerous individual); Interest of Voisine, 2012 ND 250, 823 N.W.2d 786 (summarily affirming denial of request for discharge from commitment as sexually dangerous individual); Voisine v. State, 2014 ND 98, 859 N.W.2d 930 (summarily affirming denial of petition for postconviction relief); In re Voisine, 2014 ND 178, 859 N.W.2d 930 (summarily affirming denial of request for discharge from commitment as sexually dangerous individual).

         [¶ 4] In December of 2014, Voisine again petitioned for discharge. The district court held a hearing in January of 2016. At the hearing, the State called one witness, Dr. Jennifer Krance, a psychologist at the state hospital. Dr. Krance testified Voisine remained a sexually dangerous individual because Voisine suffered from a congenital or acquired condition that is manifested by a sexual disorder, personality disorder, or mental disorder or dysfunction, he was likely to reoffend, and has serious difficulty in controlling his behavior. Dr. Stacey Benson, a clinical psychologist, testified for Voisine. Dr. Benson disagreed with Dr. Krance's findings and testified she did not believe Voisine remained a sexually dangerous individual. In February 2016, the district court issued an order finding Voisine remained a sexually dangerous individual and continued his commitment.

         II.

         [¶ 5] At a discharge hearing, the burden is on the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the committed individual remains sexually dangerous. In re J.T.N., 2011 ND 231, ¶ 4, 807 N.W.2d 570. For the State to meet its burden, it "must prove three statutory elements and establish an additional constitutional requirement that is not a fourth element, but 'is a part of the definition of a "sexually dangerous individual."'" Id. (quoting Matter of Midgett, 2010 ND 98, ¶ 7, 783 N.W.2d 27). Under N.D.C.C. § 25-03.3-01(8), "sexually dangerous individual" is defined as:

an individual [1] who is shown to have engaged in sexually predatory conduct and [2] who has a congenital or acquired condition that is manifested by a sexual disorder, a personality disorder, or other mental disorder or dysfunction [3] that 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.

         The State must also prove an additional constitutional requirement which requires the finding that the committed individual has serious difficulty controlling his or her behavior. J.T.N., 2011 ND 231, ¶ 5; Kansas v. Crane, 534 U.S. 407, 413 (2002).

         [¶ 6] Civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals are reviewed under a modified clearly erroneous standard of review. Midgett, 2010 ND 98, ¶ 6. This Court explained:

We will affirm a trial 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. In reviewing the trial court's order, we give great deference to the court's credibility determinations of expert witnesses and weight to be given their testimony. The trial court is the best credibility evaluator in ...

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