This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:

Jon Ernest Hopson


Filed November 7, 2006


Ross, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 27-MH-PR-05-280



Stephen D. Radtke, 236 Valley Office Park, 10800 Lyndale Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55420 (for appellant)


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Carolyn A. Peterson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Ross, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

ROSS, Judge

Appellant Jon Ernest Hopson challenges his indeterminate commitment as a sexually dangerous person, arguing that the district court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his stipulation for initial commitment, failing to credit his alleged changed condition from the time of the initial commitment, and finding that no less-restrictive alternative to indeterminate commitment existed.  Because the record supports the finding that Hopson knowingly and voluntarily executed the challenged stipulation, because clear and convincing evidence supports the district court’s finding that Hopson is a sexually dangerous person, and because Hopson failed to show that a less-restrictive treatment program is available to meet his treatment needs and satisfy public safety, we affirm.


The district court ordered Jon Hopson to be indeterminately committed as a sexually dangerous person.  The court based the decision on Hopson’s 25-year history of sexual misbehavior, which spans his entire adult life.

Hopson admitted to court-appointed social workers and psychologists that he sexually assaulted 10 to 20 adolescents and adult females.  Despite Hopson’s long offense history, only two of the assaults resulted in criminal convictions.  Hopson disclosed that he committed his first sexual assault as an adult in about 1980, when he raped a woman in her car at knifepoint after she had stopped to ask him for directions.  The state charged Hopson with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1986 for sexually assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, but it dismissed the charge when the victim declined to assist in the prosecution.  Hopson pleaded guilty in 1989 to second-degree criminal sexual conduct for forced sodomy with a woman whom he also beat severely.  The state agreed to dismiss a count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a second female victim as part of the plea agreement in that case, and the district court sentenced Hopson to 24 months’ incarceration.

Hopson was convicted of disorderly conduct in 1995 following a domestic assault.  While serving his sentence, he repeatedly exposed himself and masturbated in front of female nurses and corrections officers.  The state charged Hopson with 14 counts of indecent exposure and 13 counts of disorderly conduct, and Hopson eventually pleaded guilty to one count in 1996.

Hopson continued to engage in sexual misconduct, and, in 1999, a jury convicted him of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for masturbating in front of and fondling his girlfriend’s fifteen-year-old daughter.  Hopson received the maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to 72 months following appeal.  During his incarceration, officials cited Hopson for over 60 disciplinary violations, including 27 for indecent exposure and masturbation in front of female corrections staff.  In a February 2005 meeting with a female psychologist, Hopson repeatedly asked if he could “finish it this one time?”  He explained that this meant that he wanted to masturbate in front of her.

In March 2005, three months before his scheduled release date, the state filed a petition seeking Hopson’s civil commitment as a sexual psychopathic personality and a sexually dangerous person.  Because of the petition, the district court ordered that Hopson be taken to the sex-offender program in St. Peter when he was placed on intensive supervised release.  The court appointed two qualified examiners, one at Hopson’s request, to review Hopson’s records, interview and clinically evaluate him, and assess his need for civil commitment.  Both examiners reported their opinion that Hopson meets all the requirements for commitment as both a sexual psychopathic personality and a sexually dangerous person.  They reported that Hopson suffers from various mental defects and personality disorders that prevent him from controlling his sexual impulses, that he is highly likely to engage in additional harmful sexual conduct if not committed, and that the sexual offender program is the only program suitable for him.

The initial commitment hearing included the testimony of one of the court-appointed examiners, who opined that Hopson met the criteria for commitment as a sexual psychopathic personality.  Hopson then stipulated to initial commitment as a sexually dangerous person if the state dismissed without prejudice that portion of the petition seeking commitment as a sexual psychopathic personality.  Hopson’s counsel conducted an on-the-record inquiry, during which Hopson agreed that he was stipulating to initial commitment knowingly and voluntarily, without any coercion, free from influence of any substances, and without any known mental condition that would affect his decision.  The district court made detailed findings of fact and ordered Hopson to be initially committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program as a sexually dangerous person.

About two months later, Hopson’s supervised release was revoked when he physically assaulted another patient in the treatment program, and he was returned to prison for the remainder of his sentence, which is set to expire in May 2016.  The court also ordered Hopson to enter and successfully complete the department of corrections’ sex-offender treatment program.  But Hopson was terminated from the program the same day he entered it in December 2005 because he claimed to have a conflict of interest with another participant but he refused to comply with staff requests for information about it.  Officials deemed Hopson uncooperative and inappropriate for the program.

Hopson then moved to withdraw from his stipulation on the grounds that he was “confused about the legal consequences of signing the stipulation and consequently, did not make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his trial rights.”  The district court denied the motion, finding that Hopson “was not coerced or misled as to the legal consequences of signing the stipulation [and made] a knowing and intelligent waiver.”

The district court conducted a 60-day review hearing in March 2006, and, in May, it ordered Hopson’s indeterminate commitment to the sexual offender program as a sexually dangerous person.  The court found that the psychological diagnosis and condition that led to Hopson’s initial commitment as a sexually dangerous person were “essentially unchanged since the Order for Commitment was filed,” that Hopson would benefit from sex-offender treatment, and that he presents a high risk to reoffend.  The court further noted that Hopson failed to offer evidence of any suitable treatment program that would accept him under the court’s commitment order, other than the state sex-offender program.  Hopson’s appeal follows.



Hopson argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his June 2005 stipulation for initial commitment.  Hopson asserts that he changed his mind about signing the stipulation and that he was confused when he signed it.  He claims that he did not understand the proceedings, had not read the stipulation, and signed it unknowingly.  Hopson also claims that he suffers from an adjustment disorder, that he was on medication until shortly before the hearing, and that he was under duress when he agreed to execute the stipulation.  Hopson’s assertions are not convincing.

Although Hopson appears to urge a de novo review, he is essentially challenging the district court’s express factual findings that he “was not coerced or misled” into signing the stipulation and that his decision was “knowing and intelligent.”  We give deference to the district court’s factual findings unless those findings are clearly erroneous.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.  Hopson makes no effort to challenge the district court’s clearly reasoned and factually supported analysis leading to its findings.  His conclusory declarations of duress are unpersuasive in light of the deference we give the district court’s findings.

The record amply supports the district court’s finding that Hopson voluntarily entered the stipulation.  The stipulation itself and Hopson’s acknowledgements on the record confirm that he executed the stipulation knowingly and intelligently and with an understanding of its legal consequences.  See State v. Abdisalan, 661 N.W.2d 691, 694-95 (Minn. App. 2003) (holding that mere allegation of coercion would not undo voluntary and intelligent plea when defendant was advised of rights and consequences), review denied (Minn. Aug. 19, 2003).  The stipulation that Hopson executed acknowledges that Hopson had read and discussed the petition with his attorney, that he understood its nature and contents, and that he understood that he faced indeterminate commitment as a sexually dangerous person.  Hopson declared through the stipulation that he had not recently ingested medicine that affected his mental functioning or his ability to understand the stipulation.  These declarations mirror the statements Hopson made at the initial commitment hearing.  Hopson agreed that he had adequate time to review the stipulation and discuss it with his attorney, that by signing the stipulation he would be committed as a sexually dangerous person, and that he was not under the influence of any substances or suffering from any disorder that would make him incompetent to enter the stipulation.  Hopson acknowledged that he decided to sign the stipulation of his “own free will.”

The district court also considered that Hopson decided to enter into the stipulation only after he heard the court-appointed examiner testify that Hopson satisfied the criteria for commitment as a sexual psychopathic personality.  The court reasoned that at the time Hopson signed the stipulation, he “was confronted with the very real possibility of being committed pursuant to both statutes.”  Because the challenged findings are supported by evidence in the record, we conclude that the district court did not err by denying Hopson’s motion to withdraw from the stipulation for initial commitment as a sexually dangerous person.


Hopson next claims that the district court erred by committing him indeterminately as a sexually dangerous person.  Hopson does not present a compelling argument.  The district court must order indeterminate commitment of a person who is initially committed as mentally ill and dangerous if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the statutory requirements for civil commitment continue to be met.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subds. 1(a), 2(a), 3 (2004).  A person who has been initially committed as a sexual psychopathic personality or a sexually dangerous person is subject to commitment as mentally ill and dangerous.  Id. § 253B.02, subd. 7 (2004).  Whether the record provides substantial support for the district court’s legal conclusion that the statutory requirements for commitment were and continue to be met is a question of law that we review de novo.  In re Civil Commitment of Martin, 661 N.W.2d 632, 638 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 2003).

On appeal from a civil commitment, this court is limited to examining the district court’s compliance with the statute and whether its findings justify its conclusions of law.  In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995).  We review the record in the light most favorable to the district court’s decision and will affirm the district court’s findings unless they are clearly erroneous.  Id. Again, we give deference to a district court’s weighing of testimonial and documentary evidence.  Also, “[w]here the findings of fact rest almost entirely on expert testimony, the [district] court’s evaluation of credibility is of particular significance.”  Id.

To support commitment of an allegedly sexually dangerous person, the state must show by clear and convincing evidence that the person engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct and has manifested a disorder or dysfunction that makes the person highly likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c (2004); In re Linehan, 594 N.W.2d 867, 876 (Minn. 1999).  Once an individual has been committed as a sexually dangerous person, the district court must conduct a hearing and determine whether the person should remain committed.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 2(a).  Among the factors that a district court may consider is “evidence of changes in the patient’s condition since the initial commitment hearing.”  In re Linehan, 557 N.W.2d 167, 171 (Minn. 1996), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 522 U.S. 1011, 118 S. Ct. 596 (1997).

Hopson argues that because he was returned to prison and will be incarcerated for the next ten years, he has demonstrated a material change in condition since the initial commitment order.  Hopson asserts that the “pre-commitment dangerousness no longer exists, at least during the following 10 years.”  We reject this argument because it misconstrues the statute.  The statute directs the district court to consider changes in the person’s psychological condition, not his incarceration status.  As applied here, the statute requires that the district court find that Hopson “continues to be mentally ill and dangerous” to warrant indeterminate commitment.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 3; see also id. § 253B.02, subd. 17 (2004) (defining mentally ill and dangerous to include sexually dangerous persons).  That Hopson might be less likely to reoffend during his incarceration because of the restrictions that naturally accompany life behind bars is of no consequence in the statutorily mandated inquiry.  Hopson’s legally deficient argument is also especially befuddling on the facts of this case because the district court made findings that highlight Hopson’s sustained history of brazen sexual misconduct even while in prison.

Hopson presents no reason to reverse the district court’s thoroughly outlined and well-reasoned commitment decision.  Following Hopson’s initial commitment as a sexually dangerous person, the statutorily required 60-day treatment report indicated that no new evidence suggested that his long history of sexual offenses was inaccurate, that he has the ability to adequately control his sexual impulses, or that he has lessened the risk to society that he presented at the time of his initial commitment.  The evaluators determined that Hopson needs further care and treatment, including comprehensive sex-offender treatment.  Based on the number of Hopson’s sex-related convictions, the length of his sex-offending history, his use of force during some of his offenses, and his pattern of drug or alcohol abuse, the evaluators concluded that Hopson presents a high risk of reoffending.  The district court therefore found, and Hopson does not dispute, that his psychological condition is unchanged from his initial commitment and that he continues to be a sexually dangerous person.  The district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Hopson meets the statutory criteria for indeterminate commitment as a sexually dangerous person.


Hopson claims finally that the district court erred by finding that there is no less-restrictive alternative to indeterminate commitment to the state sex-offender program.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 1(a) (requiring commitment to secure treatment facility unless patient proves by clear and convincing evidence that less restrictive placement is available and would serve needs of public safety).  We will not reverse a district court’s findings regarding the least-restrictive-treatment program that can meet the patient’s needs and the needs of public safety unless the findings are clearly erroneous.  In re Thulin, 660 N.W.2d 140, 144 (Minn. App. 2003).  Hopson argues that because he will have treatment available to him while incarcerated, he has shown by clear and convincing evidence that a less-restrictive alternative is available.  For that reason, argues Hopson, the district court’s finding is clear error.  We disagree.

Committed persons have the opportunity to prove that a less-restrictive treatment program is available, but they do not have the right to be assigned to it.  In re Kindschy, 634 N.W.2d 723, 731 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Dec. 19, 2001).  Hopson did not meet his burden.  He did not offer any evidence of a less-restrictive alternative during the final commitment hearing.  See In re Robb, 622 N.W.2d 564, 574 (Minn. App. 2001) (holding that patient failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that adequate less-restrictive alternative treatment program was available when he did not show any other program “willing to accept him under a judicial commitment”), review denied (Minn. Apr. 17, 2001).  Additionally, Hopson’s contention that the prison’s treatment program will be available to him provides no basis to reverse.  In its initial commitment order, the district court found that Hopson has a significant history of not complying with or completing treatment offered to him.  The record indicates that Hopson did not complete any sex-offender or chemical-dependency treatment programs during his incarceration from 1999 to 2005.  And following his supervised-release revocation in September 2005, he was immediately dropped from the same sex-offender treatment program that he now offers as the less-restrictive alternative.  Hopson did not present clear and convincing evidence that a less-restrictive treatment program is available to meet his treatment needs and the requirements of public safety.