807 F.2d 1514 (10th Cir. 1986), 84-1744, Glatz v. Kort

Docket Nº:84-1744, 84-1745.
Citation:807 F.2d 1514
Party Name:James Edward GLATZ, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Dr. Haydee KORT, et al., Respondents-Appellees. Hugh Jan CORNELL, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Dr. Frank TRAYLOR, et al Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:December 15, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 1514

807 F.2d 1514 (10th Cir. 1986)

James Edward GLATZ, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Dr. Haydee KORT, et al., Respondents-Appellees.

Hugh Jan CORNELL, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Dr. Frank TRAYLOR, et al Respondents-Appellees.

Nos. 84-1744, 84-1745.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

December 15, 1986

Page 1515

Vicki Mandell-King, Asst. Federal Public Defender (Michael G. Katz, Federal Public Defender, was also on brief), for petitioners-appellants.

Benjamin I. Sachs, Asst. Atty. Gen., Human Resources Section (Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Deputy Atty. Gen., and Richard H. Forman, Sol. Gen. of Colorado, were also on brief), for respondents-appellees.

Before HOLLOWAY, Chief Judge, SEYMOUR, Circuit Judge, and O'CONNOR, Chief District Judge. [*]

HOLLOWAY, Chief Judge.

This is a class action raising facial challenges to the constitutionality of the Colorado criminal commitment and release procedures, Colo.Rev.Stat. Secs. 16-8-101 to 16-8-122 (1978). The named petitioners are members of a class, certified by the district court pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2), consisting of "all individuals who have been or who are, prior to resolution of this case, found not guilty by reason of insanity after entry of a voluntary plea by the defendant for offenses committed before July 1, 1983, and who have been committed to

Page 1516

the custody of the Colorado Director of Institutions pursuant to Sec. 16-8-105(4)...." 1 The petitioners seek writs of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Secs. 2254 and 2241 contending that the Colorado commitment and release procedures violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Agreeing with the ruling of the Supreme Court of Colorado in People v. Chavez, 629 P.2d 1040 (Colo.1981), the district court held that the challenged Colorado commitment and release procedures are constitutional. 650 F.Supp. 191 (D.Colo.1984). We affirm.

I

THE COLORADO PROCEDURES

In Colorado the defense of insanity may only be raised by a specific plea entered orally by the court, by the defendant, or by his counsel. When such a plea is accepted the court must forthwith commit the defendant for a sanity examination. Sec. 16-8-105(1). Upon receiving the report of the sanity examination, the court must immediately set the case for trial on the issue raised by the plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Under some conditions trial by jury of that issue may be waived. At such a trial if any evidence of insanity is introduced, the people have the burden of proving sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. 2 If he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant is automatically committed to the custody of the Colorado Department of Institutions until he is found eligible for release. Sec. 16-8-105.

The statute provides several ways of obtaining release. The court must order a release hearing upon motion of the insanity acquittee made after 180 days following the date of the initial commitment. Sec. 16-8-115(1). In addition, the court has the discretion to order a release hearing at any time on its own motion, on motion of the prosecuting attorney, or on motion of the defendant. Id. Finally, Sec. 16-8-116 provides for an expedited release procedure, which is applicable at any time the chief officer of the institution to which the insanity acquittee has been committed determines that the defendant meets the statutory test for release.

The release hearing is to the court or, on demand by the insanity acquittee, to a jury. If the release hearing is contested, the burden of submitting evidence and the ultimate burden of persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence is upon the party contesting the report and recommendation of the chief officer of the institution having custody of the insanity acquittee. Sec. 16-8-115(2). The named petitioners in the case here were not recommended for release by the respective chief officers and thus bore the burden of proof at their release hearings. At the release hearing, the court must appoint physicians, psychologists, and attorneys at State expense upon motion of the insanity acquittee and a showing that he is indigent. Sec. 16-8-119. The insanity acquittee is entitled to be present at the hearing, examine any reports, introduce evidence, summon witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and make opening and closing remarks. Sec. 16-8-117. 3

II

THE DUE PROCESS CLAIMS

It is well settled that "commitment for any purpose constitutes a significant deprivation of liberty that requires due process protection." Jones v. United States, 463 U.S. 354, 361, 103 S.Ct. 3043, 3048, 77 L.Ed.2d 694 (1983) (quoting Addington

Page 1517

v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 425, 99 S.Ct. 1804, 1808, 60 L.Ed.2d 323 (1979)); see Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 492, 100 S.Ct. 1254, 1263, 63 L.Ed.2d 552 (1980); see also People v. Chavez, 629 P.2d at 1045. Moreover "due process is flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands." Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481, 92 S.Ct. 2593, 2600, 33 L.Ed.2d 484 (1972). Constitutionally required procedural protections are matters of federal law and are analyzed through the application of the Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 96 S.Ct. 893, 903, 47 L.Ed.2d 18 (1976) calculus. 4 To determine whether a procedure satisfies the demands of due process we balance: (1) the private interest affected; (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest and the probable value of additional procedural safeguards; and (3) the Government's interest, including the function involved and the burdens that additional procedural requirements would place on the state. Id. We now address each of the petitioners' contentions in turn.

A

Automatic commitment and the continuing inference of mental illness

The petitioners assert that automatic commitment after a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity deprives the insanity acquittee of his personal liberty without due process of law. The trial court, relying on Jones v. United States, 463 U.S. 354, 103 S.Ct. 3043, 77 L.Ed.2d 694 (1983), held that the automatic commitment procedures do not violate the Due Process Clause, noting the important governmental interests in treatment and the protection of society. The court dismissed the differences between the District of Columbia Code involved in Jones and the Colorado statute as constitutionally insignificant. 5

In Colorado, when a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is accepted, the court must "forthwith commit the defendant for a sanity examination ...," Sec. 16-8-105(1), and the statute thus affords some initial protection to the defendant. Subsequently, a determination of not guilty by reason of insanity establishes two facts: (i) the defendant admits that he committed a criminal act, and (ii) he committed the criminal act because of mental illness and did not know the act was wrong. 6 Chavez, 629 P.2d at 1047 (not guilty by reason of insanity is plea in nature of confession and avoidance); see also Jones, 463 U.S. at 363, 103 S.Ct. at 3049. The Colorado General Assembly has determined that these findings constitute an adequate basis for confining the insanity acquittee as a dangerous and mentally ill person. Chavez, 629 P.2d at 1048; see also Jones, 463 U.S. at 364, 103 S.Ct. at 3049. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Colorado has stated that the primary purpose of automatic commitment is

Page 1518

to give the State an opportunity to assess the insanity acquittee's mental status and to determine whether he will likely pose a danger to society or himself. Chavez, 629 P.2d at 1048.

The fact that a person admits and is found to have committed a criminal act is an indication of dangerousness. See Jones, 463 U.S. at 364, 103 S.Ct. at 3049. The Court concluded:

Nor can we say that it was unreasonable for Congress to determine that the insanity acquittal supports an inference of continuing mental illness. It comports with common sense to conclude that someone whose mental illness was sufficient to lead him to commit a criminal act is likely to remain ill and in need of treatment.

Id. at 366, 103 S.Ct. at 3050. We likewise cannot say the Colorado statute is constitutionally unreasonable in providing for automatic commitment of insanity acquittees.

The petitioners, however, argue that the inference of continuing mental illness which is the major premise to automatic commitment is weaker if not nonexistent in this case vis a vis Jones. Appellants' Brief 13. They argue that the insanity acquittee in Jones had to prove his insanity by a preponderance of the evidence, see 463 U.S. at 356, 103 S.Ct. at 3045, while in Colorado, "once any evidence of insanity is introduced, the people have the burden of proving sanity beyond a reasonable doubt." Sec. 16-8-105(2).

"The precise...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP