IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:
John Louis Beaulieu, III.
Filed August 14, 2007
Reversed and remanded
Beltrami County District Court
File No. P5-04-1672
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Angela Helseth Kiese, Sean McCarthy, Assistant Attorneys General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Timothy Faver, Beltrami County Attorney,
Margaret Joanne Dow,
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
1. The State of Minnesota has personal jurisdiction over an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, when, despite the fact that the enrolled member was under federal supervision, he requested and was subsequently placed in residential treatment by Beltrami County Human Services.
2. The State of Minnesota’s authority to exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over the civil commitment of an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians is justified by the state’s significant interest in protecting the public from and treating sexually dangerous persons and is not preempted by the federal interest in preserving tribal self-government, self-sufficiency, and economic development.
The State of Minnesota argues that the district court erred when it determined that it lacks both personal and subject-matter jurisdiction to civilly commit respondent, an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, as a sexually dangerous person under Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18(c) (2004). Because (1) there is an adequate connection between respondent and the state, (2) respondent received notice of the action, and (3) respondent was afforded an opportunity to be heard, we conclude that the state has personal jurisdiction over respondent. Furthermore, because the operation of federal law does not preempt the state from exercising its authority to civilly commit members of the Red Lake Band, we conclude that the state has subject-matter jurisdiction over respondent’s commitment. We therefore reverse and remand.
1999, respondent John Louis Beaulieu, III, who was born in November 1984 and is
an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, was adjudicated
delinquent in federal court of aggravated sexual abuse of a child pursuant to
the Indian Major Crimes Act. Respondent
subsequently spent nearly two years at the Adolescent Sexual Adjustment Program
(ASAP) in Huron,
In August 2003, while still on federal probation, respondent filed an application with Beltrami County Human Services, seeking case-management and residential- and day-programming assistance pending his release from federal supervision. In November 2003, respondent was granted conditional release and was placed by Beltrami County Human Services in the REM-Lyndale Group Home (REM-Lyndale). Respondent also received supportive therapeutic services through Safety Center, Inc. But respondent was discharged from REM-Lyndale in May 2004 after he repeatedly acted out sexually. Respondent’s conditional release was thereafter revoked by the federal court as a result of respondent’s failure to comply with his treatment requirements at REM-Lyndale, and respondent was subsequently placed in the Lake Regions Law Enforcement Center in Devils Lake, North Dakota, until he reached the age of 21 and federal supervision terminated.
November 3, 2004,
On October 23, 2006, respondent filed a pro se petition for relief from the judgment pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02, seeking, in part, to void the commitment order on the grounds that the district court lacks both personal and subject-matter jurisdiction to commit him. The district court granted respondent’s motion, concluding that the state lacks jurisdiction to commit respondent and that both the initial and indeterminate commitment orders were therefore “void ab initio” under rule 60.02(d). Upon the state’s motion, the district court stayed its order for a period not to exceed 30 days to allow the state time to perfect an appeal and to seek a further stay from this court.
This appeal follows.
1. Does the state have personal jurisdiction over respondent, an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, for the purposes of commitment proceedings?
2. Does the state have subject-matter jurisdiction to determine whether respondent should be committed as a sexually dangerous person?
existence of personal and subject-matter jurisdiction are questions of law,
which this court reviews de novo. In re Ivey, 687 N.W.2d 666, 669 (Minn.
App. 2004) (citing Wick v. Wick, 670
N.W.2d 599, 603 (
The state challenges the district court’s determination that the state lacks personal jurisdiction to civilly commit respondent as an SDP, arguing that it has personal jurisdiction over respondent because there is an adequate connection between respondent and the state and because respondent received notice of the action and was afforded an opportunity to be heard.
Personal jurisdiction has two requirements: (1) an adequate connection between the state and the party over whom jurisdiction is sought, or a basis for the exercise of jurisdiction; and (2) a form of process that satisfies the requirements of both due process and the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure governing the commencement of civil actions.
687 N.W.2d at 670. If a judgment is void
for want of personal jurisdiction, it must be vacated under Minn. R. Civ. P.
must first examine whether there is an adequate connection between respondent
and the state. In addressing this issue,
the district court cited this court’s decisions in Ivey and In re Civil
Commitment of Kittrell, No. A05-2370, 2006 WL 1390579 (
In Ivey, this court held that there was an adequate connection between the state and the appellant, and therefore personal jurisdiction over appellant for civil-commitment purposes, when, despite the fact that appellant was imprisoned in Germany, the commissioner of corrections maintained supervisory power over appellant while he was serving the ten-year conditional-release portion of his sentence. 687 N.W.2d at 668, 671. We reasoned that the requirements of personal jurisdiction were satisfied because appellant’s
last residence before incarceration was in the state, his crimes and incarceration occurred in the state, and he was subject to DOC’s continuing supervisory authority, under an apparently valid sentencing order, at the time he returned to the state. Further, he was afforded due process and an opportunity to be heard on a commitment petition that was properly commenced according to the rules and statutes governing commencement of these actions.
In Kittrell, the appellant, a resident of
the state of
to the appellant’s release from prison, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office
filed a petition for civil commitment, alleging that the appellant was an SDP and
Here, the district court concluded that both Ivey and Kittrell are distinguishable, stating:
was not incarcerated or under the supervision of the Minnesota Department of
Corrections prior to his commitment.
Rather, Respondent remained in federal custody until the Beltrami County
Attorney’s Office initiated a civil commitment proceeding. As a result, Respondent never formed an
adequate connection with
Accordingly, the district court concluded that the state did not establish “adequate connection” with respondent and, therefore, it did not have personal jurisdiction over him. We disagree.
The record indicates that in August 2003, respondent sought residential- and day-programming assistance from Beltrami County Human Services pending his release from federal jurisdiction. The record further shows that respondent was subsequently granted conditional release and placed by Beltrami County Human Services in REM-Lyndale. In addition, respondent received supportive therapeutic services from Safety Center, Inc. While at REM-Lyndale, respondent repeatedly acted out sexually and was therefore discharged and had his conditional release revoked.
We conclude that Beltrami
County’s placement of respondent at REM-Lyndale along with the additional services
he received from Safety Center constitute an adequate connection with the state
for purposes of personal jurisdiction, despite the fact that respondent was under
federal supervision at the time. As the
state notes, Ivey does not expressly
limit personal jurisdiction in commitment cases to situations where a defendant
is under state supervision. In fact, Ivey cites cases from other
jurisdictions where “‘the power of a court to try a person for [a] crime is not
impaired by the fact that he had been brought within the court’s jurisdiction
by reason of a forcible abduction.’” 687
N.W.2d at 670 (quoting Frisbie v. Collins,
state also argues that it has subject-matter jurisdiction over respondent. Subject-matter jurisdiction is defined as a
court’s authority to hear and determine either a particular class of actions or
questions the court assumes to decide. Irwin v. Goodno, 686 N.W.2d 878, 880 (
jurisdiction over matters involving Indians is governed by federal statute or
case law.” State v. Stone, 572 N.W.2d 725, 728 (
As a general rule,
state courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over civil commitments.
In State v. R.M.H., 617 N.W.2d 55, 58 (
first look to whether Congress has expressly consented to state jurisdiction
over commitment proceedings brought against members of the Red Lake Band. In 1953, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 1162
(2000), otherwise known as Public Law 280, which grants Minnesota jurisdiction
over offenses committed either by or against Indians on a reservation. Specifically, section 1162(a) states that
examine whether the operation of federal law preempts state jurisdiction over commitment
proceedings brought against members of the Red Lake Band. See
jurisdiction is pre-empted . . . if it interferes or is incompatible with
federal and tribal interest reflected in federal law, unless the state
interests at stake are sufficient to justify the assertion of state
authority.’” R.M.H., 617 N.W.2d at 60 (quoting New Mexico v. Mescalero Apache Tribe, 462
[O]ur inquiry into whether federal law preempts state law is not dependent on mechanical or absolute conceptions of state or tribal sovereignty, but [calls] for a particularized inquiry into the nature of the state, federal, and tribal interests at stake, an inquiry designed to determine whether, in [this] specific context, the exercise of state authority would violate federal law. . . . Further, in this area of the law, a preemption analysis rests principally on a consideration of the nature of the competing interests at stake and rejects a narrow focus on congressional intent to preempt state law as the sole touchstone.
We first consider whether state jurisdiction over respondent threatens the federal interest in encouraging Indian self-government. See id. The district court noted that the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Code, chapter 901, provides for guardianship proceedings for incapacitated persons, and Minn. Stat. § 253B.212, subd. 1 (2006), authorizes the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services to contract with Indian Health Service to provide care and treatment for committed tribal members, thereby evidencing the band’s “ability to civilly commit its members.” Thus, the district court concluded that
[a]lthough the Tribal Code does
not currently provide for the civil commitment of sexually dangerous persons
and/or sexual psychopathic personalities, the lack of such a law does not mean
that Minnesota therefore has the right or power to exercise jurisdiction. The Red Lake Band has the ability to enact
such legislation if it concludes that the safety of the tribal community
necessitates a commitment procedure for dangerous sex offenders. The assumption of jurisdiction by
But as the state
We next examine whether state jurisdiction interferes with the goals of encouraging tribal self-sufficiency and economic development. Respondent does not argue and there is no record evidence indicating that the state’s exercise of jurisdiction over the civil commitment of tribe members somehow threatens the economic development and self-sufficiency of the Red Lake Band. Instead, it is likely that state jurisdiction over Red Lake Band members would serve to benefit the tribe economically, as the cost of instituting a sex-offender program for sexually dangerous persons would be placed squarely on the state’s shoulders.
In addition, we must address whether state jurisdiction over respondent’s commitment proceeding relates to an area that is so pervasively regulated by federal law that state regulation would obstruct federal policies. In 2006, the federal government enacted 18 U.S.C.A. § 4248 (West Supp. 2007), which provides that if the court finds by clear-and-convincing evidence that a person in federal custody is a sexually dangerous person, the court shall commit the person to the custody of the Attorney General. Section 4248(d) further states that the Attorney General shall release the person to the state in which the person is domiciled or was tried and that the state will assume responsibility for the person’s custody, care, and treatment. But section 4248 did not become effective until July 27, 2006, after respondent was out of federal custody, and therefore is inapplicable to the facts here. Nonetheless, the 2006 enactment reflects a federal policy of referring sexually dangerous persons to the state system, even when the federal government otherwise has custody and jurisdiction. Therefore, we conclude that state jurisdiction over respondent does not relate to an area that is so pervasively regulated by federal law that state regulation would obstruct federal policies.
Finally, we must
consider the state’s interest in civilly committing sexually dangerous members
of the Red Lake Band. It is undeniable
that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the health and safety of
the public, including persons both on and off tribal land, from dangerous and
repeat sex offenders. See In
re Linehan, 557 N.W.2d 171, 181 (
We conclude that the state’s exercise of jurisdiction over the commitment of respondent is justified by strong state interests and does not significantly interfere with the federal interest in preserving tribal self-government, self-sufficiency, and economic development. Furthermore, we conclude that state jurisdiction does not “relate to an area that is so pervasively regulated by the federal government that state regulation would obstruct federal policies.” R.M.H., 617 N.W.2d at 64. Accordingly, we conclude that the district court erred when it granted respondent’s motion to void the commitment order after determining that the state lacks subject-matter jurisdiction.
Because the state has both personal and subject-matter jurisdiction over respondent’s commitment as a sexually dangerous person, we conclude that the district court erred when it granted respondent’s motion to dismiss the commitment orders under rule 60.02(d).
Reversed and remanded.