This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Ricky Lee McDeid, petitioner,





Dean Mooney,

Director of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program,



Filed April 6, 2004


Toussaint, Chief Judge


Carlton County District Court

File No. CX-03-1149



Ricky Lee McDeid, 1111 Highway 73, Moose Lake, MN 55767 (pro se appellant);


Angela M. Helseth, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1800, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

            This appeal is from an order denying appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his 1999 civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person (SDP) and a sexual psychopathic personality (SPP).  Appellant argues that he was constitutionally entitled to a jury trial in the commitment proceeding.  We affirm.         


            Itasca County filed a petition to commit appellant Ricky Lee McDeid as an SDP and an SPP in April 1999.  A hearing on the petition was held before a district court judge, who issued an order in July 1999 committing McDeid initially to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) as both an SDP and an SPP.  McDeid then filed a motion to dismiss the petition and to grant him a new trial, based in part on an alleged violation of his right to a jury trial under the federal constitution.  This motion was denied, and McDeid waived his right to a review hearing.  The district court then issued an order for indeterminate commitment as an SDP and SPP.

            McDeid appealed his indeterminate commitment, and this court affirmed in an unpublished opinion.  In re McDeid, No. C4-00-166 (Minn. App. June 20, 2000), review denied  (Minn. Aug. 15, 2000).  The facts underlying the commitment are summarized in that opinion.  One of the issues raised in the appeal was the due process right to a jury trial in a civil commitment proceeding.

            After filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court that was dismissed, McDeid filed a habeas petition in state court, arguing that he was entitled to a jury trial under the Minnesota Constitution.  The district court denied the petition, concluding that McDeid had waived the issue by failing to raise it on appeal from his commitment, and that, in any event, the jury-trial argument had been rejected in State ex rel. Pearson v. Probate Ct., 205 Minn. 545, 556-571, 87 N.W. 297, 303 (1939).  The district court also concluded there was no due process right to a jury trial in commitment proceedings.  See generally Poole v. Goodno, 335 F.3d 705, 710-11 (8th Cir. 2003). 


This court gives great weight to the district court’s findings in considering a petition for habeas corpus and will uphold those findings on appeal if they are reasonably supported by the evidence.  Northwest v. LaFleur, 583 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Nov. 17, 1998).  This court, however, reviews questions of law de novo.  State ex rel. McMaster v. Benson, 495 N.W.2d 613, 614 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Mar. 11, 1993).  McDeid’s petition presents a purely legal issue.

            McDeid argues that he was denied his right to a jury trial under article I, section 4 of the Minnesota Constitution when he was committed as an SDP and SPP based on the findings of a judge, without having the case tried to a jury.  He also argues that due process requires a jury trial in commitment cases, and that the denial of a jury trial violates equal protection.

            The district court ruled that McDeid was barred from raising the jury trial issue because he did not request a jury trial at the time of his commitment and did not raise the issue on appeal from his commitment.  But this court has held that the writ of habeas corpus is available to challenge the legality of civil commitment and may be used to present both constitutional and jurisdictional challenges, although it may not be used to obtain review of issues previously raised.  Joelson v. O’Keefe, 594 N.W.2d 905, 908 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 28, 1999). McDeid’s claim to a state constitutional right to a jury trial is a constitutional challenge that he has not previously raised.  And, because McDeid did file an appeal from his commitment, he is not using this habeas proceeding as a substitute for appeal.  A civil commitment, which may be terminated by discharge, does not have the same finality as a criminal conviction, which cannot be challenged collaterally on grounds known at the time of direct appeal.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.15, subds. 1, 9 (2002) (providing for provisional discharge that becomes absolute when it expires); cf. State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976) (holding claims known, as well as raised, at time of direct appeal may not be later raised in postconviction petition).  We conclude that McDeid did not waive the claim to a state constitutional right to a jury trial by failing to raise it on appeal from his commitment.

            The state constitutional right to a jury trial exists wherever the right existed in the territory of Minnesota at the time the constitution was adopted.  Olson v. Synergistic Tech. Bus. Syst., 628 N.W.2d 142, 148 (Minn. 2001).  A party is not entitled to a jury trial under the state constitution if “that same type of action did not entitle a party to a jury trial at the time the Minnesota Constitution was adopted.”  Id. at 149.

            The supreme court addressed the right to a jury trial in commitment proceedings in Pearson, stating:

If relator has a right to a jury trial, it is because such was provided at common law when our constitution was adopted.  While no one has contended that “psychopathic personalities” were confined and treated at common law, the claim has been made that the issue of idiocy was, in early times, decided by a jury.  The other view is that if such was the case, the practice had been abandoned before our constitution was adopted.  That we are committed to the latter belief appears quite unequivocally from the language of this court in Vinstad v. State Bd. of Control, 169 Minn. 264, 211 N.W. 12 [1926].


205 Minn. at 557, 287 N.W. at 303.

This court has followed Pearson in Joelson v. O’Keefe, 594 N.W.2d at 910, and in several unpublished decisions.  Moreover, this court, as an intermediate appellate court, is “not in [a] position to overturn established supreme court precedent.”  State v. Ward, 580 N.W.2d 67, 74 (Minn. App. 1998).  We may, however, take note of a recent law article exploring the issue and examining the holdings of Pearson and VinstadSee C. Peter Erlinder, Essay: Of Rights Lost and Rights Found: The Coming Restoration of the Right to a Jury Trial in Minnesota Civil Commitment Proceedings, 29 Wm. Mitch. L. Rev. 1269 (2003).

            Professor Erlinder points out that territorial law, which must define the scope of the jury trial right guaranteed in the state constitution, provided that, when there was an application to the probate court for appointment of a guardian of a person alleged to be an “insane person or habitual drunkard,” the probate court was to impanel a jury of six persons in the same manner as a jury is impaneled for the trial of civil actions.  Id. at 1277-78; see Minn. Stat. ch. 58, § 23 (1849-58).  Respondent disputes whether this guardianship provision, providing for a jury of six rather than twelve and assigning it functions not performed by a civil petit jury, establishes a pre-statehood right to a jury trial that was incorporated into the state constitution and applies to a commitment proceeding.  Because Pearson and the principle of stare decisis prevent this court from re-examining this issue, we need not further address it.  We note only that the implications of the guardianship jury-trial provision were not addressed in Vinstad or Pearson.  It is the province of the supreme court to make new law on this issue, if a change in the existing law is required.  See generally LaChapelle v. Mitten, 607 N.W.2d 151, 159 (Minn. App. 2000) (noting court of appeals is error-correcting court), review denied (Minn. May 16, 2000).

            The other arguments raised by McDeid are without merit or have been waived by his failure to raise them in the district court.  McDeid did not raise, in his petition or accompanying memorandum, the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel or a violation of his right to equal protection.  We decline to consider those isssues for the first time on appeal.  Moreover, because Pearson foreclosed a claim that McDeid was entitled to a jury trial in his civil commitment proceeding, McDeid’s counsel was not ineffective in failing to raise it.  And the denial of a jury trial does not violate due process.  See Poole v. Goodno, 335 F.3d 705, 710-11 (8th Cir. 2003) (finding no clearly established federal law holding due process requires jury trial in civil commitment).  For all of these reasons, McDeid has not established that he is entitled to a writ of habeas corpus.