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In re Byers

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 18, 2018

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 Bruce B. Haskell, Judge.

          Jonathan R. Byers, Office of the Attorney General, Bismarck, ND, petitioner and appellee.

          Kent M. Morrow, Bismarck, ND, for respondent and appellant.

          OPINION

          JENSEN, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Raymond Voisine appeals from an order denying his petition for discharge from treatment as a sexually dangerous individual. We conclude clear and convincing evidence supports the district court's findings and order and the court did not misapply the doctrine of res judicata. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2004, Voisine was incarcerated after he pled guilty to gross sexual imposition for acts involving a six-year-old victim. In Matter of Voisine, 2010 ND 17, ¶¶ 2-4, 777 N.W.2d 908, this Court discussed the underlying facts leading to his incarceration and subsequent commitment as a sexually dangerous individual:

Voisine [was, at that time, ] a 65-year-old male with four adult children, R.V., P.P., H.M. and L.K. In 2003, an officer with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation executed a search warrant on Voisine's home for an unrelated firearms charge. During the search, the officer found sexually explicit photographs under the pillow on Voisine's bed. The photographs pictured H.M., one of Voisine's three adult daughters. DNA analysis was performed and established with over 99.99 percent certainty that Voisine fathered two children with H.M.
In light of Voisine's incestuous relations, interviews were conducted with his acquaintances. Voisine's grandson reported that when he was 6 or 7 years old, he was forced to stroke Voisine's penis for 5 to 10 minutes. The ex-husband of H.M. reported that Voisine threatened him with a firearm and fathered a child with P.P., Voisine's adult daughter. Voisine's ex-wife reported that Voisine beat and threatened her while they were married. The current boyfriend of Voisine's ex-wife reported that Voisine's children were sexually abused when they were minors. Voisine's daughter, L.K., reported that she was born to a 17-year-old mother who was impregnated by a 34-year-old Voisine. L.K. also reported that Voisine physically abused her when she was young and that she once walked in on Voisine unzipping his pants behind a naked and bent-over H.M. L.K. later denied stating H.M. was naked.
Following the investigation, Voisine was charged with gross sexual imposition for sexual contact with his 6- or 7-year-old grandson and with promoting obscenity to a minor for allegedly showing pornography to a second, 9- or 10-year-old grandson who was also Voisine's son. Voisine pled guilty to gross sexual imposition, and the promotion of obscenity charge was dismissed. He was incarcerated, and upon his release in 2008, the State petitioned to commit him as a sexually dangerous individual. The State alleged that in addition to the sexual contact underlying Voisine's gross sexual imposition conviction, that Voisine sired three children with two of his daughters, that Voisine sexually abused his daughters as minors, that Voisine conceived a child with a 16-year-old girl in Maine and that Voisine promoted obscenity to a minor by showing pornography to his 9- or 10-year-old grandson/son.

         [¶ 3] After he was released from custody, the district court revoked his probation for failing to complete sex offender treatment while incarcerated. In a post-conviction proceeding, his probation revocation was reversed. Voisine v. State, 2008 ND 91, ¶ 17, 748 N.W.2d 429. The State petitioned to commit Voisine for treatment as a sexually dangerous individual, which the district court subsequently granted. This Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings in Voisine, 2010 ND 17, ¶ 15, 777 N.W.2d 908, and after further proceedings summarily affirmed an order committing Voisine for treatment. Interest of Voisine, 2010 ND 241, ¶ 1, 795 N.W.2d 38. The district court denied his subsequent petitions for discharge from commitment, which were affirmed on appeal. See Interest of Voisine, 2012 ND 250, ¶ 1, 823 N.W.2d 786; Interest of Voisine, 2014 ND 178, ¶ 2, 859 N.W.2d 930; Interest of Voisine, 2016 ND 254, ¶ 24, 888 N.W.2d 781. This Court also summarily affirmed a district court order denying another petition for post-conviction relief from the conviction. Voisine v. State, 2014 ND 98, ¶ 2, 859 N.W.2d 930.

         [¶ 4] In December 2016, Voisine again petitioned the district court for discharge. The court held the review hearing on November 30, 2017, during which the State's expert, Dr. Peter Byrne, and Voisine's independent evaluator, Dr. Stacey Benson, testified. Both experts also submitted to the court their respective reports evaluating Voisine. The court subsequently entered an order finding clear and convincing evidence that Voisine continues to meet the statutory criteria and is in need of treatment and rehabilitation as a sexually dangerous individual. The court ordered that he continue to be civilly committed for treatment.

         II

         [¶ 5] This Court reviews civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals under a "modified clearly erroneous" standard of review. Interest of Tanner, 2017 ND 153, ¶ 4, 897 N.W.2d 901. 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.; Matter of Wolff, 2011 ND 76, ¶ 5, 796 N.W.2d 644. We accord "great deference to the [district] court's credibility ...


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