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In re J.B.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

October 29, 2019

In the Interest of J.B.
v.
J.B., Respondent and Appellant Kathleen K. Murray, State's Attorney, Petitioner and Appellee

          Appeal from the District Court of Wells County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable James D. Hovey, Judge.

          Tyler Morrow, Grand Forks, ND, for respondent and appellant.

          Kathleen Murray, State's Attorney, Fessenden, ND, for petitioner and appellee.

          OPINION

          Jensen, Justice.

         [¶1] J.B. appeals from an order denying his petition for discharge from commitment as a sexually dangerous individual. J.B. argues the district court erred in determining he remains a sexually dangerous individual because the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he has serious difficulty controlling his behavior. We conclude clear and convincing evidence supports the court's finding J.B. has serious difficulty controlling his behavior, and we affirm.

         I

         [¶2] In 2005, the district court found J.B. was a sexually dangerous individual and committed him to the care, custody, and control of the executive director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services. In July 2018, J.B. petitioned for discharge from commitment and requested a hearing. Dr. Deirdre M. D'Orazio completed an annual evaluation of J.B., and a report from the evaluation was filed. Dr. D'Orazio stated in her report that it was her professional opinion that J.B. continues to meet the criteria as a sexually dangerous individual. Dr. D'Orazio also completed an addendum to her report before the discharge hearing to provide a current opinion about whether J.B. continued to meet the definition of a sexually dangerous individual because more than five months had passed since the prior evaluation was completed.

         [¶3] J.B. moved for an independent examiner to be appointed, and the district court appointed Dr. Stacey Benson. Dr. Benson's report and evaluation was not filed and she did not testify at the hearing.

         [¶4] After a January 2019 discharge hearing, the district court denied J.B.'s petition. The court found there was clear and convincing evidence J.B. remains a sexually dangerous individual and ordered that he continue to be committed.

         II

         [¶5] We review civil commitments of sexually dangerous individuals under a modified clearly erroneous standard. In re R.A.S., 2019 ND 169, ¶ 5, 930 N.W.2d 162. "[W]e will affirm the district court's decision unless it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, or we are firmly convinced the decision is not supported by clear and convincing evidence." Id. The State has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner remains a sexually dangerous individual. Id.

         [¶6] The State must prove three statutory elements to show the petitioner remains a sexually dangerous individual:

[1] [The individual] 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 [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.

R.A.S., 2019 ND 169, ¶ 5, 930 N.W.2d 162; see also N.D.C.C. ยง 25-03.3-01(8). In addition to the three statutory elements, to satisfy substantive due ...


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