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Hoppes v. Scott

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 13, 2016

DENNIS J. HOPPES, Petitioner,
v.
GREGORY SCOTT, Program Director, Rushville Treatment/Detention Facility, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          David R. Herndon United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Dennis J. Hoppes was civilly committed under the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons (SVP) Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207/1, et seq., in 1999. In June 2015, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. (Doc. 1).[1]

         This matter is now before the Court on petitioner's motion for an addendum (Doc. 22), as well on as the merits of the petition itself.

         Grounds Asserted for Habeas Relief

         The petition sets forth four grounds for habeas relief:

1. The state was required to prove lack of ability to control dangerous sexual behavior for this type of civil commitment. Petitioner's lawyer “misinformed him that the State ‘could prove all requirements at trial' including that ‘lack of control is implicit in the mental disorder diagnosis from the DSM manual.'”
2. The state sought to prove that petitioner was substantially probable to reoffend by the testimony of an expert witness who relied on “risk assessment tools, ” but the risk assessment tools do not detect or measure the presence of or the severity of a mental disorder. His original commitment and annual continuance of commitment are predicated on the use of these tools.
3. The state used a doctor who was a Psy.D, and not an M.D. to diagnose petitioner with a mental abnormality. “The petitioner's liberty has been taken away from him based on an unqualified diagnosis by an unqualified non-medical doctor. Had appointed counsel at the 2005 proceedings been effective and challenged the State's evidence, the outcome would have been different.” Further, petitioner “does not suffer from any acquired or congenital brain abnormality as is absolutely required by the Act.”
4. Petitioner's age and serious medical conditions significantly reduce his likelihood of recidivism.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         The Illinois Attorney General filed a petition to have Dennis J. Hoppes civilly committed as a Sexually Violent Person in St. Clair County. On October 14, 1999, Hoppes admitted the allegations in the petition and, based upon the admission, a Circuit Judge found him to be a Sexually Violent Person and ordered him committed pursuant to 725 ILCS §207/40. See, Sexually Violent Person Admission Findings and Order, Doc. 8, Ex. 1.[2] The order indicates that Hoppes was represented by counsel.

         According to the habeas petition, Hoppes has never filed any state court action challenging his commitment because “There is no state court remedy or statute to overturn an SVPCA verdict obtained as a result of ‘self commitment.'” Doc. 1, p. 2. See also, Doc. 1, p. 6 (“No appellate or collateral remedies were/are available at time of commitment or present day.”)

         Applicable Legal Standards

         1. Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act

         The Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act defines a sexually violent person as:

a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense, or has been found not guilty of a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity and who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence.

725 ILCS §207/5.

         A “sexually violent offense” is defined in the same section as various specified crimes under Illinois law. Petitioner does not contest the fact that he was convicted of one of the enumerated crimes.

         The Attorney General or the State's Attorney in the county in which the person was convicted may file a petition alleging that he is a sexually violent person. §207/15. Proceedings under the Act are civil in nature. §207/20. However, the person has the right to be represented by counsel and an indigent person has the right to appointed counsel. §207/25(c). The State bears the burden of proving the allegations of the petition beyond a reasonable doubt. §207/35(d).

         The State has the right to have the person evaluated by an expert chosen by the State, and the person has the right to retain an expert to evaluate him. If the person is indigent, the court is to appoint a qualified expert to perform the examination at the person's request. §207/25(e). If the person is found to be a sexually violent person, “the court shall order the person to be committed to the custody of the Department [of Human Services] for control, care and treatment until such time as the person is no longer a sexually violent person.” §207/40(a). The order shall specify either institutional care or conditional release. §207/40(b)(2).

         A judgment finding that the person is a sexually violent person is reviewable on appeal. §207/35(g). The committed person may also file a petition for discharge. §207/65(b).

         A committed person must be reexamined at least once every twelve months, and a written report of the examination must be submitted to the court. §207/55. At the time of the reexamination, the committed person is to be furnished with a notice of his right to petition the court for discharge. If the person does not waive his right to petition for discharge, “the court shall set a probable cause hearing to determine whether facts exist to believe that since the most recent periodic reexamination (or initial commitment, if there has not yet been a periodic reexamination), the condition of the committed person has so changed that he or she is no longer a sexually ...


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