John R. Van Orden; Michael D. McCord; Joseph Miller; Macon Baker; Chance W. Tyree; Walter W. Ritchey; David Brown; Anthony Amonette; Richard Tyson; Wade A. Turpin; Matthew King; Andre Cokes; Joseph Bowen, Class Representative; William Murphy, Class Representative, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
Mark Stringer; Harold Myers, Reimbursement Officer, HealthLink, Individually and Officially; Alan Blake, Chief Operating Officer, MSOTC, Individually and Officially; Julie Inman; Jay Englehardt; Justin Arnett; Rick Gowdy, in his official capacity as Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Healths Division of Behavioral Health; Robert Reitz; Linda Moll; Daman Longworth; Donna Augustine; Dave Schmitt; Ericka L. Kempker; Kristina Bender-Crice; Angeline Stanislaus, in her official capacity as Chief Clinical Officer of the Missouri Department of Mental Health; Anne Precythe, in her official capacity as Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections; Rikki Wright, in his official capacity as Deputy Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health for the Division of Behavioral Health; David Schmitt, in his official capacity as Chief Operating Officer of Southeast Missouri Mental Health Centers Adult Psychiatric Services; Andy Atkinson, in his official capacity as Chief Operating Officer of Fulton State Hospital; Lee Ann McVay, in her official capacity as Program Coordinator at SORTS-Fulton State Hospital; Susan Knopflein, in her official capacity as Chief Nurse Executive at Fulton State Hospital, Defendants - Appellees.
Submitted: September 26, 2018
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
COLLOTON, BEAM, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
of civilly-committed residents of Missouri's civil
commitment program for certain sex offenders appeal the
dismissal of their claims against state officials. The
residents allege that the state officials deprived them of
constitutional rights under the rubric of substantive due
process. The district court initially found the defendants
liable for constitutional violations, but reconsidered in
light of Karsjens v. Piper, 845 F.3d 394 (8th Cir.
2017), and entered judgment on behalf of the state officials.
The residents appeal, and we affirm.
1998, the Missouri legislature enacted the Missouri Sexually
Violent Predator Act to govern the civil commitment of
persons adjudicated to be sexually violent predators.
See 1998 Mo. Legis. Serv. 106 (West); Mo. Rev. Stat.
§§ 632.480-632.525. A person may be committed in
the program only if a judge or jury determines by clear and
convincing evidence that he is a sexually violent predator.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 632.495.1. A "[s]exually violent
predator" is a person who, among other things, has a
"mental abnormality which makes the person more likely
than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if
not confined in a secure facility." Id. §
commitment, Missouri law provides avenues to secure
conditional release. The director of the department of mental
health (or his designee) is required to prepare an annual
report on each resident's mental condition and provide it
to the state court that committed the person. Id.
§ 632.498.1. If the director determines that a resident
is no longer likely to commit acts of sexual violence, then
he "shall authorize the person to petition the court for
release." Id. § 632.501. Alternatively, a
resident may file his own petition for release without
director approval. See id. §§ 632.498.2,
.504. If the court at a hearing determines by a preponderance
of the evidence that the committed person is no longer likely
to engage in acts of sexual violence if released, then the
person is entitled to a trial on the issue. See id.
§ 632.498.4; In re Coffman, 225 S.W.3d 439,
442-44 (Mo. 2007). To justify continued commitment, the State
must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person
is still likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if
released. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 632.498.5(3). Otherwise, the
person is entitled to conditional release. See id.
§§ 632.498.5(4), .505.1.
2009, a group of civilly-committed persons brought suit on
behalf of themselves and those similarly situated against
state officials responsible for operating the program. The
fifth amended complaint alleged, inter alia, that
the State's commitment provisions are facially
unconstitutional, and that the treatment program as applied
to the residents violates their substantive due process
rights. The treatment program, the complaint alleged, is a
"sham" that does not provide a "realistic
opportunity for release." For purposes of the treatment
claims, the district court certified a class under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(2) made up of
"persons who are, or will be, during the pendency of
this action," residents of Missouri's commitment
program for sexually violent predators.
district court held a bench trial in April 2015 and entered
an order on the question of liability. The court ruled that
the Act is not unconstitutional on its face, and dismissed
the state-law claims with prejudice, but granted a
declaration that the Act is unconstitutional as applied to
the class. The court concluded the treatment program suffered
from three "constitutional deficienc[ies]."
the court found that "annual reviewers have not been
applying the correct legal standard when evaluating whether a
resident meets the criteria for conditional release."
The result, the court believed, was that residents remained
confined "beyond the time constitutionally
justified." Second, the court found that state officials
were not releasing low-risk residents into less restrictive
housing, and had "not even designed procedures to do
so," but were instead imposing an indefinite
"release without discharge" condition on those
residents. Third, the court found that the director of the
department of mental health had "abdicated his
duty" to authorize petitions for release of low-risk
residents, resulting in "the continued confinement of
persons who no longer meet the criteria for commitment."
reaching the remedies phase, the district court sua
sponte requested briefing on whether it should
reconsider its liability order in light of our intervening
decision in Karsjens v. Piper, 845 F.3d 394 (8th
Cir. 2017). In Karsjens, this court rejected an
as-applied substantive due process challenge to
Minnesota's civil commitment program for sexually
dangerous persons. See id. at 410-11. The district
court concluded that the underlying findings in
Karsjens were materially indistinguishable from
those in its own liability order, so it reconsidered that
order and rejected the residents' as-applied
constitutional claims. The district court later denied the
residents' motion to alter or amend the judgment on their
state-law claims to a dismissal without prejudice.
review the district court's findings of fact for clear
error and its legal conclusions de novo. Lisdahl
v. Mayo Found., 633 F.3d 712, 717 (8th Cir. 2011). The
denial of the motion to alter or amend the judgment is
reviewed for ...