IN RE THE DETENTION OF BRADLEY HUTCHCROFT, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Andrea J.
Hutchcroft appeals the district court order placing him in
transitional release. AFFIRMED.
Dunn, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Hutchcroft was civilly committed as a sexually violent
predator. See In re Det. of Hutchcroft, No. 11-1838,
2012 WL 5356157, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 31, 2012)
(affirming civil commitment). Hutchcroft sought annual
review. See Iowa Code § 229A.8 (2015).
Following a hearing, the district court placed him in a
transitional release program.
appeal, Hutchcroft argues, "The trial court rendered an
inconsistent verdict when it held that [he] was not suitable
for complete discharge from confinement but was suitable for
placement in transitional release after an annual review
hearing under Iowa Code [section] 229A.8."
State preliminarily argues the issue is moot because
Hutchcroft was removed from the transitional release program
and returned to confinement at the civil commitment unit.
See Homan v. Branstad, 864 N.W.2d 321, 328 (Iowa
2015) ("A case is moot if it no longer presents a
justiciable controversy because the issues involved are
academic or nonexistent."). A finding of mootness would
require dismissal of the appeal unless the court invokes
exceptions to the mootness doctrine. See Auto-Owners Ins.
Co. v. Iowa Ins. Div., ___ N.W.2d ___, 2016 WL 6822814,
at *3 (Iowa 2016); In re B.B., 826 N.W.2d 425, 429
(Iowa 2013) (finding appeal involving person released from
involuntary commitment was technically moot but concluding
"collateral consequences" justified appellate
persuaded Hutchcroft's appeal is not moot. The order from
which he appealed addressed the question of whether he should
be discharged from civil commitment, in addition to the
question of transitional release, and Hutchcroft argues that
if there are grounds for a transitional release there are
necessarily grounds for a discharge from
State also raises additional procedural concerns. We find
these concerns unpersuasive, and we proceed to the merits.
Code section 229A.8 governing annual reviews affords a
committed person two methods of rebutting the presumption
that a commitment should continue: "[W]hen facts exist
to warrant a hearing to determine [(1)] whether a committed
person no longer suffers from a mental abnormality which
makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts
constituting sexually violent offenses if discharged, or
[(2)] the committed person is suitable for placement in a
transitional release program." Iowa Code §
229A.8(1). The first method, governing discharge from
commitment, requires a showing that a person "no longer
suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person
likely to engage in predatory acts." Id. The
second, governing transitional release, requires a showing
that "[t]he committed person's mental abnormality is
no longer such that the person is a high risk to
reoffend." Id. § 229A.8A(2)(a). At the
final hearing, the State has the burden to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt either that "[t]he committed
person's mental abnormality remains such that the person
is likely to engage in predatory acts that constitute
sexually violent offenses if discharged" or that
"[t]he committed person is not suitable for placement in
a transitional release program pursuant to section
229A.8A." Iowa Code § 229A.8(6)(d)(1), (2). Put
another way, discharge is appropriate only where persons no
longer have mental abnormalities that makes them likely to
engage in predatory acts, whereas transitional release may be
appropriate as long as persons are not at a high risk to
reoffend. The two dispositions are not inconsistent.
conclude the district court's transitional release order
did not offend the statute or, as Hutchcroft also argues, the
United States and Iowa ...