In re Murphy, No. ED 101652

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge
Citation477 S.W.3d 77
Docket NumberNo. ED 101652
Decision Date23 June 2015
Parties In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of William Murphy

477 S.W.3d 77

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of William Murphy

No. ED 101652

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, DIVISION III.

FILED: June 23, 2015
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied July 28, 2015
Application for Transfer Denied September 22, 2015


Erika Renee Eliason, Columbia, MO, for Appellant.

Chris Koster, Attorney General, Mary Highland Moore, Assistant Attorney General, for Respondent.

Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge

Introduction

Appellant William Murphy ("Murphy") appeals from the judgment of the Probate Division of the Circuit Court of Marion County ("the probate court") committing Murphy to secure confinement in the custody of the Department of Mental Health as a sexually violent predator ("SVP") pursuant to Sections 632.480 through 632.513.1 Murphy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse in 1983 and was sentenced to prison. On April 16, 2013, prior to Murphy's scheduled release from prison, the State filed a petition to have Murphy committed as an SVP. On July 2, 2013, House Bill 215 ("HB 215") was signed into law amending the definition of a "sexually violent offense." Murphy subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the State's petition seeking to commit Murphy as an SVP. Murphy reasoned that at the time the State's petition was filed, first-degree sexual abuse was not a qualifying offense for purposes of commitment under Section 632.480. The probate court denied Murphy's motion to dismiss. On June 27, 2013, pursuant to a stipulation, the probate court entered a judgment committing Murphy to the Department of Mental Health as an SVP.

On appeal, Murphy contends the probate court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the petition because he did not qualify for commitment as an SVP. Specifically,

477 S.W.3d 79

Murphy argues that first-degree sexual abuse was not a qualifying offense under Section 632.480(4) at the time the State filed its petition to have him committed. Murphy maintains that the subsequent amendment to the statute constitutionally could not be applied retroactively because the amendment was a substantive change in the law affecting his fundamental right to liberty. Because the legislature clearly intended that the amendments to the SVP statute apply retroactively, and because the retroactive application of the SVP statute is not unconstitutional, the probate court did not err in applying the amended statute to Murphy's case. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the probate court.

Factual and Procedural History

Murphy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse on September 20, 1983, and was sentenced to prison. Murphy was scheduled to be released from prison on May 2, 2013. On April 16, 2013, the State filed a petition pursuant to Sections 632.480 through 632.513 ("Missouri's SVP statute") to civilly commit Murphy as an SVP. The petition stated that Murphy had been convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and suffered from a mental abnormality that made him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released.

Missouri's SVP statute establishes the process by which the State may civilly commit a person determined to be an SVP. Under the statute, an SVP is defined as "any person who suffers from 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 and who ... [h]as pled guilty or been found guilty in this state or any other jurisdiction ... of a sexually violent offense." Section 632.480(5). Section 632.480(4) lists a number of offenses that qualify as "sexually violent offenses." In April of 2013, when the State filed its petition to commit Murphy as an SVP, Section 632.480(4) listed only "sexual abuse" among the qualifying offenses.

The probate court held a probable cause hearing on May 1, 2013. Dr. Amy Griffith, a psychologist with the Department of Corrections who evaluated Murphy, testified that Murphy met the criteria of an SVP because: (a) from 1972–2007, Murphy had been arrested or convicted for sexual offenses involving children on at least six different occasions, including a 1983 conviction in the Circuit Court of Marion County for two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for subjecting two children less than 12 years of age to sexual contact; (b) he suffered from a mental abnormality, namely pedophilia; and (c) he was more likely than not to sexually re-offend if not confined to a secure facility due to a combination of high risk scores on the actuarial instruments and factors unique to Murphy—including his own statements that he would possibly be attracted to children if released and had "hope" that he would be referred as an SVP because he could "use the help" to avoid sexually reoffending.

At the hearing, Murphy did not object to first-degree sexual abuse qualifying as a sexually violent offense under Section 632.480(4). At the conclusion of the hearing, the probate court entered a finding of probable cause.

On July 2, 2013, the Governor of Missouri signed HB 215 into law, which, among other things, amended the definition of a "sexually violent offense" in Section 632.480(4). Among the changes made to Section 632.480(4) by HB 215 was the addition of "sexual abuse in the first degree" to the list of offenses that qualify as sexually violent offenses. In addition, HB 215 included the following language:

477 S.W.3d 80
It is the intent of the legislature to reject and abrogate earlier case law interpretations on the meaning of or definition of "sexually violent offense" to include, but not be limited to, holdings in: Robertson v. State, 392 S.W.3d 1 (Mo. App. W.D., 2012) ; and State ex rel. Whitaker v. Satterfield, 386 S.W.3d 893 (Mo. App. S.D., 2012) ; and all cases citing, interpreting, applying, or following those cases. It is the intent of the legislature to apply these provisions retroactively.

The immediate enactment of HB 215 was deemed "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, peace, and safety." Thus, HB 215 became law on July 2, 2013.

On August 21, 2013, Murphy filed a motion to dismiss the State's petition, arguing that he lacked a qualifying sexually violent offense under Section 632.480(4). Specifically, Murphy alleged that at the time the State filed its petition, first-degree sexual abuse was not a qualifying sexually violent offense under the SVP statute as a result of the holdings in Robertson and Whitaker.2 The State filed a response; the motion was argued; and the probate court subsequently entered judgment denying Murphy's motion to dismiss.

In denying Murphy's motion to dismiss, the probate court concluded that the legislature clearly expressed its intent to apply HB 215 retroactively and abrogate the holdings in Robertson and Whitaker. The probate court further concluded that HB 215 was not unconstitutionally retrospective because the amended SVP statute "does not attach new obligations or duties." Instead, the probate court found that the statute's requirement that a person be found guilty of a sexually violent offense "is no more than a predicate portion of the calculus utilized in determining whether a respondent meets the criteria as a sexually violent predator." As a result, the probate court determined that application of the amended SVP statute to the State's petition would not run afoul of the Constitution. Because first-degree sexual abuse is one of the enumerated offenses set out as a qualifying sexually violent offense under the amended version of Section 632.480(4), the probate court denied Murphy's motion to dismiss.

On June 27, 2014, the parties filed a stipulation in which they agreed that Murphy could be committed as an SVP but that Murphy did not waive any issues preserved in the motions filed during the course of the proceedings. The probate court accepted the stipulation and entered a judgment and commitment order confining Murphy to the custody of the Department of Mental Health as an SVP. This appeal follows.

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2 practice notes
  • Berg v. State (In re Berg), No. SD 34087
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 24 Febrero 2017
    ...inadmissible under § 632.483. We review this question of law de novo . See512 S.W.3d 59In Matter of the Care & Treatment of Murphy , 477 S.W.3d 77, 81 (Mo. App. 2015) ; Whitfield v. State , 250 S.W.3d 722, 723 (Mo. App. 2008).Section 632.483 is part of the statutory scheme to identify, ......
  • George v. State, WD78928
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 24 Enero 2017
    ...absence of probative facts supporting the judgment." Id.515 S.W.3d 796Questions of law are reviewed de novo . In re Murphy , 477 S.W.3d 77, 81 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015).Analysis"Missouri's SVP statute requires a finding that, to be committed, the individual 1) has a history of past sex......
2 cases
  • Berg v. State (In re Berg), No. SD 34087
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 24 Febrero 2017
    ...inadmissible under § 632.483. We review this question of law de novo . See512 S.W.3d 59In Matter of the Care & Treatment of Murphy , 477 S.W.3d 77, 81 (Mo. App. 2015) ; Whitfield v. State , 250 S.W.3d 722, 723 (Mo. App. 2008).Section 632.483 is part of the statutory scheme to identify, ......
  • George v. State, WD78928
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 24 Enero 2017
    ...absence of probative facts supporting the judgment." Id.515 S.W.3d 796Questions of law are reviewed de novo . In re Murphy , 477 S.W.3d 77, 81 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015).Analysis"Missouri's SVP statute requires a finding that, to be committed, the individual 1) has a history of past sex......

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