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In re Hargett

February 21, 2003

IN RE DETENTION OF JEFFREY HARGETT,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JEFFREY HARGETT, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit Iroquois County, Illinois, No. 00-MR-10 Honorable Gordon L. Lustfeldt, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Slater

Unpublished

The Respondent, Jeffrey Hargett, pled guilty to aggravated criminal sexual assault in two separate cases. 720 ILCS 5/12--14 (West 1992). He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 12 years' imprisonment. Before his release, the State filed a petition alleging that the respondent was a sexually violent person and should be detained under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (Act). 725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 2000). After a jury trial, the respondent was found to be a sexually violent person under the Act. 725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 2000).

Following a dispositional hearing, the trial court ordered the respondent to be committed for institutional care in a secure setting. On appeal, the respondent argues that the trial judge erred by: (1) failing to recuse himself; (2) refusing him a Frye hearing and thereby admitting evidence that was not generally accepted within the scientific community; and (3) entering the dispositional order committing him to the Department of Human Services for institutional care in a secure setting. We reverse.

I. FACTS

On February 25, 2000, the State filed a petition seeking the commitment of the respondent to the Department of Human Services pursuant to the Act. 725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 2000). In the petition, the State alleged that: (1) the respondent had been serving concurrent terms of 12 years' imprisonment for two cases of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--14 (West 1992)); (2) he was within 90 days of his release time; (3) he had a mental disorder, pedophilia; and (4) he was dangerous because his mental disorders created a substantial probability that he would engage in acts of sexual violence.

Before trial, counsel for respondent made an oral motion for substitution of the presiding judge, Gordon L. Lustfeldt. The motion was based upon the fact that Judge Lustfeldt was the elected State's Attorney of Iroquois County at the time the respondent pled guilty to the two cases of aggravated criminal sexual assault. 720 ILCS 5/12--14 (West 1992). The respondent alleged that he could not obtain a fair hearing before Judge Lustfeldt because of the natural prejudices and biases that flow from those prosecutions. The judge noted that the respondent had pled guilty eight years earlier and that he had no recollection of the cases and he did not handle the respondent's two cases. The judge noted that this situation did not require his automatic recusal. Instead, he gave the respondent leave to file a motion for substitution of judge in writing and scheduled it for a hearing in front of Judge Duane O'Connor. Judge O'Connor denied the motion and held that there was no actual evidence that Judge Lustfeldt was prejudiced or biased toward the respondent.

The respondent also filed a motion to exclude testimony. Specifically, he sought to exclude the testimony of Dr. Phil Reidda. The respondent alleged that Dr. Reidda would testify that he could predict that the respondent would commit acts of sexual violence in the future. The respondent noted that Reidda based his prediction on actuarial instruments which were designed to determine future behavior based upon past acts. That evidence, the respondent contended, did not meet the requirements set out in Frye v. United States, 293 F.2d 1013 (D.C.Cir.1923). The trial judge treated the motion as a motion for a Frye hearing. He then denied the motion.

At trial, Dr. Reidda testified that he was a licensed clinical psychologist and an independent practitioner who contracts with the Illinois Department of Human Services for evaluating individuals who may be committed. He diagnosed the respondent with pedophilia. With regard to the respondent's risk of re-offending, Dr. Reidda testified that he used certain risk-assessment instruments, called Static-99, and MNSOST-R. He testified that these tests showed that the respondent was at high risk to re-offend. On cross-examination, Dr. Reidda admitted that he deviated from the testing instructions with regard to the respondent. If he had followed the rules for this type of testing, the respondent would have been in a medium to low category for risk of re-offending. Using the instructions given with the test, the respondent would have scored a three on the Static-99 test, which would mean his recidivism rate prediction would be somewhere between 14 and 24 percent. Under the MNSOST-R test, his score of nine would have put him in a seven percent range of re-offending.

Dr. Agnes Jones, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Corrections, testified that she had interviewed the respondent and found that he was a candidate for civil commitment. That conclusion was based upon three factors: (1) the two convictions for aggravated criminal sexual assaults with minor females (720 ILCS 5/12--14 (West 1992)); (2) the respondent's failure to complete sex offender treatment; and (3) the opinions of other psychologists that he was not benefitting from treatment. Jones testified that she used a method called Meta-Analysis by Hanson and Busierre to determine the respondent's risk for future sexual offenses. She described the method as utilizing a large number of studies involving sex offenders and recidivism and combining them in a statistical way that created factors used to determine offender recidivism. Based upon the Meta-Analysis, she opined that there was a substantial possibility that the respondent would commit another act of sexual violence.

The respondent presented no evidence. The jury returned a verdict finding the respondent to be a sexually violent person.

At the dispositional hearing, Dr. Reidda testified that the respondent needed a secure, intensive sex offender clinical service, which only the Department of Human Services program could provide. Dr. Robert Chapman, a psychiatrist, testified on behalf of the respondent. Chapman said that although he believed that the respondent met the criteria for civil commitment, he opined that the respondent was a suitable candidate for out patient sexual offender treatment.

The trial court refused to order conditional release. Instead, it ordered the respondent to be committed to the Department of Human Services for ...


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