650 F.Supp. 191 (D.Colo. 1984), Civ. A. 78-M-1012, Glatz v. Kort

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 78-M-1012
Citation:650 F.Supp. 191
Party Name:Glatz v. Kort
Case Date:May 03, 1984
Court:United States District Courts, 10th Circuit, District of Colorado

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650 F.Supp. 191 (D.Colo. 1984)

James Edward GLATZ, Plaintiff/Petitioner,


Dr. Haydee KORT and Robert W. Kuhn, Defendants/Respondents.

Hugh J. CORNELL, Plaintiff/Petitioner,


Dr. Raymond LEIDIG and Dr. Haydee Kort, Defendants/Respondents.

Civ. A. Nos. 78-M-1012, 78-M-1143.

United States District Court, D. Colorado.

May 3, 1984

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Vicki Mandell-King, Asst. Federal Public Defender, Denver, Colo., for plaintiffs/petitioners.

Margery T. Bornstein, Asst. Atty. Gen., Human Resources Section, Denver, Colo., for defendants/respondents.


MATSCH, District Judge.

This is a class action. The petitioner class consists of all individuals who have been or who are, prior to resolution of this case, found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the custody of the Colorado Director of Institutions pursuant to C.R.S. § 16-8-105(4). Petitioners seek writs of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and § 2241, releasing all members of the petitioner class being held in custody by the Colorado Department of Institutions. The action raises facial challenges to the constitutionality of the Colorado criminal commitment statutes, C.R.S. § 16-8-101, et seq.

Petitioners urge that the Colorado criminal justice system for commitment and release of persons found not guilty by reason of insanity, C.R.S. § 16-8-101, et seq., violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment. Specifically, they urge that C.R.S. § 16-8-105(4) violates the due process clause because it permits automatic commitment for criminal defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity without a pre-commitment hearing. Second, they assert that C.R.S. § 16-8-115(2) violates the due process clause because it places the burden of proof on the insanity acquittee to establish

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by a preponderance of the evidence that he is eligible for release. Third, petitioners claim that the applicable test for release from commitment, C.R.S. § 16-8-120(1), is unconstitutionally vague, ambiguous and overbroad. Finally, petitioners contend that the different commitment procedures and release standards for insanity acquittees and involuntary civil committees, C.R.S. § 27-10-101, et seq., violate the equal protection clause.

On September 28, 1978 and October 31, 1978, respectively, the two class representatives, James Edward Glatz and Hugh Jan Cornell, filed separate pro se actions in this court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which each alleged that his commitment and continued confinement violated his constitutional rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment. The pro se complaints were considered as petitions seeking habeas corpus relief because the claims primarily concerned the fact and duration of continued confinement at the Colorado State Hospital, rather than the conditions of confinement.

Because of the common issues of law, the two actions were consolidated as habeas corpus petitions on October 18, 1979. Respondents' supplemental response, filed February 23, 1981, was considered as a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction due to petitioners' failure to exhaust state remedies as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). At a hearing on March 11, 1981, this court ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the petitioners' procedural due process claims concerning allocation of the burden of proof at a release hearing and the statutory test for release because these constitutional issues were within the exception to the exhaustion requirement that permits federal habeas corpus review when the issues have been decided recently by the state's highest court. Adkins v. Bordenkircher, 674 F.2d 279 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 878, 103 S.Ct. 173, 74 L.Ed.2d 142 (1982); Robinson v. Berman, 594 F.2d 1 (1st Cir.1979). The Colorado Supreme Court decisions that decided these issues are People v. Logan, 196 Colo. 573, 588 P.2d 870 (1979), People v. Howell, 196 Colo. 408, 586 P.2d 27 (1978), and People v. Giles, 192 Colo. 240, 557 P.2d 408 (1976). After the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court in People v. Chavez, 629 P.2d 1040 (Colo.1981), petitioners' equal protection claims concerning the issues of Colorado's automatic commitment and its release procedures were included for review under the same exception to the exhaustion of state remedies requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b).

There are no material issues of fact. In 1971, petitioner Cornell entered his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to arson charges. After his insanity trial, he was automatically committed to the Colorado State Hospital, pursuant to C.R.S. § 16-8-105(4). After a release hearing, petitioner Cornell was conditionally released from the state hospital on April 8, 1982, subject to specific terms and conditions for an indeterminate time. In particular, he is required to have weekly contact with a mental health center, designated by the Superintendent of the Colorado State Hospital, and to inform the State Hospital of any change of address. In addition, he may not possess either firearms or pyrotechnics, and he may not leave the state without permission of the court.

In 1977, petitioner Glatz was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of assault and robbery. He was committed to the Colorado State Hospital. On September 30, 1981, and on October 19, 1981, he was conditionally released from the Colorado State Hospital on the 1977 commitment and a second commitment not reflected in the record. Each release order contained identical terms and conditions effective for two years from the date of the conditional release order. In particular, petitioner Glatz was required to live in Pueblo or some other place approved by the Superintendent of the State Hospital, report to the State Hospital on a daily basis for one year, abstain from the use of any alcoholic beverage, regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous and submit to whatever medical and psychiatric treatment the Superintendent

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deemed advisable, expedient or necessary. He was to be administered the drug Antabuse by the State Hospital staff for one year from the date of the court order. Given the listed terms and conditions of each petitioner's conditional release order and the fact that violation of the terms and conditions could result in recommitment, C.R.S. § 16-8-115(3)(c) and § 16-8-115.5, each remained in the custody of the state of Colorado while subject to his release order for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 83 S.Ct. 373, 9 L.Ed.2d 285 (1963).

On October 27, 1981, petitioners moved to certify a class and to continue the action as a class action to avoid the possibility that the petitioners' claims might become moot before the case could be decided. Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 95 S.Ct. 553, 42 L.Ed.2d 532 (1975). On April 21, 1982, the consolidated action was certified as a class action and ordered to be maintained as a Rule 23(b)(2) Fed.R.Civ.P. class action, for declaratory or injunctive relief with respect to...

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