This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:
William Dwight McRae.
Filed March 22, 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File No. MH-PR-04-000129
Gregory R. Solum, 7625 Metro Boulevard, Suite 140, Edina, MN 55439 (for appellant)
John L. Kirwin, Theresa Couri, Adult Services Section, A‑2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Dietzen, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
Appellant challenges the constitutionality of the sexually dangerous person statute, Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c (2004), in its application to his circumstances, asserting that he has not committed a sexual conduct crime since 1991. There is no merit in appellant’s constitutional arguments, partly because he erroneously depicts his record. We also affirm the trial court’s findings and reject appellant’s contention that they are insufficient to support commitment in light of his chemical dependency problems.
Appellant William McRae was convicted of five criminal sexual conduct felonies between 1984 and 1999. On May 1, 1984, appellant broke into the apartment of a female friend and threatened to beat her if she refused to perform sex acts. He was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and sentenced to 24 months in prison.
A few months later during the summer of 1984, appellant raped another woman. During the assault, appellant banged the victim’s head against a wall. Appellant was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct and pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree assault. He was sentenced to 366 days in prison to be served concurrently with the prior 24-month sentence.
In April 1988, appellant jumped out from behind some bushes and attacked a woman who was walking down the street, pulling off her shirt and bra. The victim claimed that appellant hit and choked her before another man came to her defense. Appellant was not convicted following this incident.
In February 1991, appellant followed a 15-year-old girl down an alley and grabbed and touched her inappropriately. He also pulled down her pants and underwear before she was able to escape to a nearby apartment building. Appellant was convicted of assault and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In July 1998, appellant exposed himself to a woman in the basement of a residence and demanded that she perform sex acts. Appellant beat the woman when she refused, but she managed to escape. Following the incident, appellant pleaded guilty to terroristic threats. He was sentenced to 366 days, stayed on the condition that he serve eight months in prison and complete three years’ probation.
In 1999, appellant was convicted of second-degree possession of a controlled substance. Shortly before the completion of his sentence, the Department of Corrections petitioned to have appellant committed as a sexually dangerous person and a sexual psychopathic personality.
Two court-appointed examiners evaluated appellant during the commitment hearing. Both examiners supported appellant’s commitment as a sexually dangerous person but declined to endorse his commitment as a psychopathic personality. The district court similarly found sufficient evidence to support appellant’s commitment as a sexually dangerous person.
1. Findings of Fact
The relevant statute provides that a sexually dangerous person is one who has engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct (as defined in Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a (2002)), who has manifested a mental disorder or dysfunction, and who, “as a result, is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct.” Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c (2002). Subdivision 7a provides that sexual conduct is harmful when it “creates a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm to another.” Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a (2002). The statute adds a presumption that this conduct includes violations of the criminal sexual conduct statutes. Id. To comply with constitutional protections, the supreme court has interpreted the statute to also require that the person has a “present disorder or dysfunction [that] does not allow them to adequately control their sexual impulses, making it highly likely that they will engage in harmful sexual acts in the future.” In re Linehan, 594 N.W.2d 867, 876 (Minn. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1049 (Dec. 6, 1999) (Linehan IV). To commit a person under this statute, the stated requirements must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 1 (2002); see Minn. Stat. § 253B.185, subd. 1 (2002) (provisions of section 253B.18 apply to sexually dangerous person commitments).
Appellant does not challenge any of the trial court’s specific findings of fact but disputes the ultimate findings that he had engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct and was likely to engage in future harmful sexual conduct. An appellate court’s review of a judicial commitment is limited to determining whether the district court complied with the civil commitment act and whether the commitment is justified by findings based upon evidence submitted at the hearing. In re Shaefer, 498 N.W.2d 298, 300 (Minn. App. 1993). The district court’s findings will not be overturned unless they are found to be clearly erroneous. In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995). But this court reviews de novo whether there is clear and convincing evidence to support the district court’s conclusions that the commitment standards are met. In re Linehan, 518 N.W.2d 609, 613 (Minn. 1994) (Linehan I).
Initially, appellant’s attack on the trial court’s ultimate findings is premised on the simple assertion that he could not have engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct because he has not committed a sexual conduct crime since his 1991 conviction. But the court’s findings of fact indicate that appellant was convicted of terroristic threats in 1998, and appellant fails to specifically contest the court’s finding that there was a sexual component to this 1998 conviction and that this incident raised the presumption that the victim sustained physical and/or emotional harm. The court concluded that appellant engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct under the dangerous person statute by including the 1998 conduct, and there is no error in this finding.
Appellant also questions whether the ultimate findings on his disorder and likelihood of future conduct are appropriate in light of evidence that both are complicated by chemical abuse and dependence. He further argues that the course of harmful conduct finding is inappropriate because his two most recent felony convictions were drug related. These contentions are without merit. Appellant claims, inter alia, that his chemical dependency “profoundly impacts” his risk of harmful sexual conduct in the future. He cites to no authority indicating that his problems with chemical dependency diminish the propriety of the court’s determination that he is a dangerous person, and there is no authority of the kind.
Appellant also challenges the determination that he has a disorder sufficient to satisfy the second element of the statute because one of the two experts who testified did not identify the disorder as sexual but rather as more generally violent in nature. But in its findings of fact, the trial court directly concurred with the testimony of the expert who opined that appellant’s “sexual behavior is part of a larger constellation of psychopathy.” The differing opinion of one expert did not render the court’s finding clearly erroneous.
2. Constitutional Issues
Appellant also contends that the sexually dangerous person statute is unconstitutional as applied to him. We review the constitutionality of a statute de novo. In re Blilie, 494 N.W.2d 877, 881 (Minn. 1993). The party challenging the constitutionality of the statute bears the burden of proving a violation of a constitutional right beyond a reasonable doubt. In re Haggerty, 448 N.W.2d 363, 364 (Minn. 1989).
Separately reviewing each of the constitutional grounds stated by appellant, we determine that none have merit. Appellant’s constitutional argument is primarily premised on due process grounds. He asserts that his commitment as a sexually dangerous person is especially problematic because he has not committed a sexual conduct crime since 1991. But appellant improperly overlooks his 1998 conviction for terroristic threats, which the trial court appropriately found to contain a sexual component. Thus, the record shows five serious sexual conduct crimes between 1984 and 1998, not atypical for a sexually dangerous person determination. Appellant’s case is not distinguishable from prior determinations that the governing statute does not violate the requirements of substantive due process.
Appellant also asserts that the statute is unconstitutional as applied to him because it violates the prohibitions against vagueness, double jeopardy, cruel and unusual punishment, and his right to a jury trial. But this court has rejected appellant’s assertion that the term “adequate control” is impermissibly vague. In re Ramey, 648 N.W.2d 260, 267-68 (Minn. App. 2002), review denied (Minn. Sept. 17, 2002). Minnesota appellate courts have also determined that the statute does not implicate the prohibition against double jeopardy because its purpose is treatment and not punishment. In re Linehan, 557 N.W.2d 171, 188 (Minn. 1996), vacated on other grounds, 522 U.S. 1011, 118 S. Ct. 596 (1997) (Linehan III); In re Martin, 661 N.W.2d 632, 641 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 2003). Because the statute’s justification is the state’s interest in public protection and treatment rather than punishment, it cannot be cruel and unusual. Martin, 661 N.W.2d at 641. This court has also rejected appellant’s jury-trial argument and held that the state constitution does not provide a jury-trial right in a civil commitment proceeding. Joelson v. O’Keefe, 594 N.W.2d 905, 910 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 28, 1999).
The district court did not err in committing appellant as a sexually dangerous person.
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.