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In re Detention of Matlock

Supreme Court of Iowa

March 13, 2015

IN RE THE DETENTION OF CALVIN MATLOCK, CALVIN MATLOCK, Appellant

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J. Shubatt, Judge. A person committed under the Sexually Violent Predator Act alleges his release with supervision violates the Due Process Clauses of the Iowa and the United States Constitutions.

AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND CASE REMANDED.

Steven L. Addington and Jill Eimermann, Assistant State Public Defenders, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer and John McCormally, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

WIGGINS, Justice. All justices concur except Zager, J., who concurs in part and dissents in part.

OPINION

Page 899

WIGGINS, Justice.

A person committed under the Sexually Violent Predator Act alleges his release with supervision violates the Due Process Clauses of the Iowa and the United States Constitutions. We find the statutory scheme contained in Iowa Code sections 229A.8 and 229A.9A does not violate the Due Process Clauses of the Iowa and the United States Constitutions as long as: the person continues to suffer from a mental abnormality, the testimony supports the need for supervision, and the supervision strikes the right balance between the

Page 900

need to protect the community and the person's liberty interest. Applying these principles to this appeal, we find the committed person still suffers from a mental abnormality and the testimony supports his release with supervision. Thus, we affirm that part of the district court's judgment. We are not satisfied the State met its burden to prove the release conditions adopted bye the district court balance the need to protect the community and the person's liberty interest. Accordingly, we remand the case to the district court to review the release conditions and enter the appropriate order consistent with due process.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Calvin Matlock has three convictions for sex abuse dating back to the early 1980s. His last conviction was in 1995, and prior to his set release from prison in 2000, the State filed a petition to place Matlock in civil commitment for sexually violent predators. In July 2001, a civil jury found Matlock was a sexually violent predator as defined by Iowa Code section 229A.2(9) (2001). Following the verdict, the district court confined Matlock to the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO).

Pursuant to chapter 229A, Matlock received annual evaluations regarding his treatment progress and the continued existence of a mental abnormality. Iowa Code § 229A.8(2)--(3) (2013). In 2006, the district court found Matlock met all the criteria for placement in a transitional release program under Iowa Code section 229A.8A(2). Matlock remained in the transitional release program, albeit with some setbacks in progress, until 2013.

At Matlock's 2013 annual review hearing, the State was required to prove Matlock's " mental abnormality remains such that [he] is likely to engage in predatory acts that constitute sexually violent offenses if discharged." Id. § 229A.8(6)( d )(1). Although the testimony established Matlock still exhibits minimal signs of a mental abnormality, the State was unable to prove that Matlock is likely to engage in predatory acts that constitute sexually violent offenses if discharged. Id. Thus, the district court granted Matlock's motion for directed verdict orally on the record on the basis the State could not prove Matlock would be likely to reoffend. On October 2, the district court confirmed its ruling on the motion for directed verdict in a written order.

In October, when the district court granted Matlock's motion for a directed verdict, it ordered Matlock " should be discharged from the program, but it is in the best interest of the community to order release with or without supervision before [he] is discharged." The district court reached this decision, in part, because of the testimony of Tracy Thomas, the clinical director at CCUSO. The district court found Matlock " has a history of sexually violent crimes and would, like many other offenders, have trouble reintegrating into the community if he goes from a significant level of supervision and structure to no supervision or structure whatsoever." The district court then ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to prepare a release plan for Matlock, addressing his needs for counseling, medication, community support services, residential services, vocational services, alcohol or other drug abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, or any other necessary treatment or supervision.

In November, Matlock had a second hearing to determine if his release would be with or without supervision. Prior to the November hearing, DHS submitted a twelve-page release plan to the district

Page 901

court, which contained sixty-six primary conditions to his release, many of which had additional conditions. The release plan also turned jurisdiction of the supervision over to the First Judicial District of Iowa, Community Based Corrections, specifically Mike Shreck of the Iowa Department of Correctional Services (DOC). The district court accepted the recommended conditions of the release plan with the exception that the court would hold a review of Matlock's need for supervision every six months rather than the recommended year because of the significant liberty interest involved.

At both hearings, Matlock argued Iowa Code section 229A.9A was unconstitutional. Matlock asserted that once the court found he no longer suffered from a mental abnormality that made him likely to engage in acts of sexual violence, release with supervision violated his due process rights. Following the November order, Matlock filed a notice of appeal.

II. Jurisdiction.

Before we reach the merits of Matlock's appeal, we must determine if our court has jurisdiction over this matter. The State alleges the appeal is untimely because Matlock did not file an appeal within thirty days following the October 2 order; and therefore, we do not have jurisdiction over the appeal. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.101(1)( b ). Matlock filed his notice of appeal on December 18, within thirty days after the district court ordered Matlock released from CCUSO with supervision.

In the October 2 order, the district court ordered Matlock " be discharged from the program" but then determined " it is in the best interest of the community to order release with or without supervision before [Matlock] is discharged." The district court directed DHS to prepare a release plan within thirty days.[1] In this order, the district court also overruled Matlock's argument that Iowa Code section 229A.9A is unconstitutional.

After DHS prepared the release plan, the district court held a second hearing on November 7. At the November 7 hearing, Matlock renewed his constitutional objections to supervision because he was no longer a sexually violent predator as defined by the Code. Following the hearing, the district court entered a written order on November 18, ordering the release of Matlock with supervision and ordering him to follow the conditions of the release plan prepared by DHS.

We do not consider a ruling final if the district court intends to act further on the case before entering its final decision of the issues. See River Excursions, Inc. v. City of Davenport, 359 N.W.2d 475, 477 (Iowa 1984). Here, the district court explicitly recognized its ruling on Matlock's liberty restrictions would not be final until it ruled on the terms of supervision, if any. An appeal from the October 2 order would have been premature. Accordingly, the district court entered the final order in this case on November 18, and the appeal was timely.

III. Issue.

The only issue we must decide on this appeal is whether Matlock's release with supervision violates the substantive Due Process Clauses of the Iowa or the United States Constitutions.

IV. Scope of Review.

We review constitutional challenges de novo. See In re Det. of Garren, 620 N.W.2d 275, 278 (Iowa 2000).

Page 902

V. Relevant Statutory Overview of Chapter 229A.

The purpose of chapter 229A is to provide long-term care and treatment of sexually violent predators. Iowa Code § 229A.1. The Code defines a " sexually violent predator" as

a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses, if not confined in a secure facility.

Id. § 229A.2(11).

The Code states a " mental abnormality" is " a congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity of a person and predisposing that person to commit sexually violent offenses to a degree which would constitute a menace to the health and safety of others." Id. § 229A.2(5). The Code provides a person

" likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence " means that the person more likely than not will engage in acts of a sexually violent nature. If a person is not confined at the time that a petition is filed, a person is " likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence " only if the person commits a recent overt act.

Id. § 229A.2(4).

To be committed to CCUSO, a judge or jury must determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is a sexually violent predator. Id. § 229A.7(5). While at CCUSO, there is a rebuttable presumption the civil commitment should continue. Id. § 229A.8(1). The committed person is entitled to an annual examination. Id. § 229A.8(2). The report of the examination is forwarded to the district court to conduct an annual review. Id. § 229A.8(3). The committed person may petition the court for discharge at the time of the annual review. Id. § 229A.8(4). To receive a hearing,

[t]he burden is on the committed person to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there is relevant and reliable evidence to rebut the presumption of continued commitment, which would lead a reasonable person to believe a final hearing should be held to determine either of the following:
(a) The mental abnormality of the committed person has so changed that the person is not likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses if discharged.
(b) The committed person is suitable for placement in a transitional release program ...

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