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Ragel v. Scott

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

March 20, 2018

WILLIAM RAGEL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GREGG SCOTT, Program Director, Illinois Department of Human Services Treatment and Detention Facility at Rushville, Illinois, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 17MR79 Honorable John R. Kennedy, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Knecht and Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In June 2003, the trial court found plaintiff, William Ragel, to be a sexually violent person under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (Act) (725 ILCS 207/5(f) (West 2002)). In February 2017, citing recent developments in medical knowledge, plaintiff filed a complaint for habeas corpus relief. 735 ILCS 5/10-124 (West 2016). The trial court rejected this argument and denied his complaint, concluding that "there is no probable cause to believe that [plaintiff] is no longer a Sexually Violent Person."

         ¶ 2 Plaintiff appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court erred by denying his petition for habeas corpus relief, (2) the State cannot cause the indefinite civil commitment of a person based upon behaviors that took place when the individual was a teenager, and (3) habeas corpus relief is the proper remedy because no other statutory remedy will "vindicate his legal claim" and "over-turn the commitment and finding" that he is a sexually violent person.

         ¶ 3 Because we conclude that (1) the trial court did not err in denying the petition for habeas corpus relief and (2) plaintiff's other arguments are without merit, we affirm.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 A. The Original Admission

         ¶ 6 In June 2003, the trial court accepted plaintiff's admission that he was a sexually violent person under the Act. 725 ILCS 207/5(f) (West 2002). Before doing so, the court found that (1) plaintiff read and understood the allegations in the petition alleging that he is a sexually violent person; (2) plaintiff knowingly and intelligently admitted that he was a sexually violent person; (3) plaintiff knowingly and intelligently waived his right to a jury trial, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, to present a defense, and to require the State to prove that he is a sexually violent person beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) plaintiff was represented by counsel; and (5) a factual basis existed to support plaintiff's admission.

         ¶ 7 The trial court then committed plaintiff to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for control, care, and treatment until such time that plaintiff was no longer a sexually violent person. Plaintiff was 16 years old at the time of the offense.

         ¶ 8 B. The Habeas Corpus Complaint

         ¶ 9 In February 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint for habeas corpus relief. 735 ILCS 5/10-124 (West 2016). Plaintiff cited developments in neuroscience, recognized in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 471-74 (2012), that demonstrate the differences between juvenile and adult minds and their capacity for self-control. Plaintiff therefore argued that it was "medically and scientifically incorrect" to diagnose him with a qualifying mental disorder under the Act based partially on a criminal offense that he committed when he was 16 years old.

         ¶ 10 The trial court rejected this argument, concluding that "there is no probable cause to believe that [plaintiff] is no longer a Sexually Violent Person." The court based its conclusion in part on a recent hearing where plaintiff was found to remain a ...


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