U.S. v. Edwards, No. 5:08–HC–02095–BO.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtTERENCE WILLIAM BOYLE, District Judge.
Citation777 F.Supp.2d 985
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Petitioner,v.Joseph Aaron EDWARDS, Respondent.
Decision Date14 April 2011
Docket NumberNo. 5:08–HC–02095–BO.

777 F.Supp.2d 985

UNITED STATES of America, Petitioner,
v.
Joseph Aaron EDWARDS, Respondent.

No. 5:08–HC–02095–BO.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina,Western Division.

April 14, 2011.


[777 F.Supp.2d 986]

Edward D. Gray, G. Norman Acker, III, R.A. Renfer, Jr., Seth Morgan Wood, U.S. Attorney's Office, Raleigh, NC, Joshua B. Royster, U.S. Department of Justice, Raleigh, NC, Michael D. Bredenberg, Butner, NC, for Petitioner.Eric Brignac, Jane E. Pearce, Federal Public Defender Raleigh, NC, Joseph L. Ross, II, Asst. Fed. Public Defender, Raleigh, NC, for Respondent.

ORDER
TERENCE WILLIAM BOYLE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court regarding Respondent's objection at a March 29, 2011 status conference regarding Defendant's failure to disclose an expert report favorable to the Respondent. The Court finds that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause requires application of the Brady Doctrine in § 4248 cases.

The Court also DENIES the Respondent's Motion for Appointment of Expert and Memorandum Addressing the Payment of the Court's Expert. (DE # 51). The Court additionally DENIES Respondent's Motion to Withdraw this Motion and Memorandum (DE # 59).

I. FACTS
A. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006

The Government is currently detaining over 90 allegedly sexually dangerous individuals in this district. These individuals have no pending criminal charges and have not had a hearing to test the legality of their confinement. Until three weeks ago, Respondent Joseph Aaron Edwards was one of these individuals. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 1 (the “Adam Walsh Act” or the “Act”) allows the Government to detain individuals after certifying them as “sexually dangerous.” 18 U.S.C. § 4248 (2006). 2 The statute does not require initial judicial review of the certification, nor does it provide for procedural safeguards in the certification process, such as notice, a hearing or a burden of proof.

Three types of individuals are covered by the act: (1) those who are in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, (2) those who are committed to the Attorney General pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(d) because issues of mental capacity render the person incapable of standing trial, and (3)

[777 F.Supp.2d 987]

those against whom all criminal charges have been dismissed solely because of a mental condition. § 4248(a). In this district, all but one 3 of the § 4248 detainees fall under the first category: those who had previously been serving a sentence in the Bureau of Prisons.

A certified individual remains in custody until a district court holds a hearing to determine whether he is in fact sexually dangerous. If so, the individual is civilly committed. The Government must carry its burden at this hearing with clear and convincing evidence.4 For those detained after they finished their prison sentences where they have a following period of supervised release, the time in detention in not credited against their supervised release.

The Government started detaining individuals under this act in fall 2006. All § 4248 cases in this district were stayed from July 3, 2008 until June 14, 2010 pending the determination of the Act's constitutionality. The United States Supreme Court reversed the Fourth Circuit 5 to find, inter alia, that Congress had the power to enact § 4248 under the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause. United States v. Comstock, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 1949, 176 L.Ed.2d 878 (2010). The Supreme Court however, “d[id] not reach or decide any claim that the statute or its application denies equal protection of the laws, procedural or substantive due process, or any other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.” Id. at 1965. The Court remanded the case to the Fourth Circuit on these issues.6

B. Joseph Aaron Edwards

On March 8, 2002, the United States Court for the District of Arizona sentenced Edwards to 84 months imprisonment and 5 years supervised release for Sexual Abuse by Use of Force Against a Minor. (DE # 16). Less than a week before his release date, on July 1, 2008, the Government filed a certificate under § 4248 to civilly commit Edwards as a sexually dangerous person. (DE # 1). As is customary with § 4248 detainees, the Chairperson of the Bureau of Prison Certification Review Panel wrote Edwards' certification.

[777 F.Supp.2d 988]

The Chairperson is not required to be a medical professional and Edwards' certification is barely 2 1/2 pages. Edwards' certification did not reference any medical expert. (DE # 1–1). Like many other § 4248 detainees, Edwards's case was stayed for two years. After the Supreme Court decided Comstock and shortly before the stay was lifted,7 Edwards motioned to dismiss on due process, equal protection, double jeopardy, and ex post facto grounds on June 24, 2010. (DE # 8, 9). After the stay was lifted, this case was assigned to this Court on August 6, 2010. Edwards' case is one of approximately 23 § 4248 cases assigned to this Court.

On August 4, 2010, a standing order was entered in this district on Procedures for § 4248 Commitments. 10–S0–01 (E.D.N.C. Aug. 4, 2010).8 Among other things, the Order allowed both the Government and Respondent to designate up to two expert witnesses of their own choosing. Id. at ¶ 4(g). The Order stated that in any case anticipated to proceed to hearing, the Government must disclose the reports of its intended experts within sixty days of a hearing pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1). Id. at ¶ 4(a). Similarly, Respondents must file the reports of their intended experts within sixty days after the Government provides its initial disclosures. Id. at ¶ 4(b). The Order also required the Government to disclose “[a]ll medical and psychological records in the possession of the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) or the government.” Id. at ¶ 4(a)(ii).

The Government filed evidence supporting Edwards' certification and civil commitment for the first time on October 6, 2010. First, the Government filed an expert report used by the Bureau of Prisons Certification Review Panel to certify Edwards as sexually dangerous. This pre-certification report was by Sex Offender Forensic Psychologist Dr. M. Lela Demby. While Dr. Demby evaluated Edwards' risk of recidivism, the report explicitly did “not render an opinion about his eligibility as a Sexually Dangerous Person.” (DE # 21 at 1.) On the same date, the Government also filed a report by its designated expert, Psychologist Dr. Christopher North, which concluded that Respondent met the criteria as a sexually dangerous person. (DE # 22). The Government did not file any other expert report.

On November 29, 2010, Edwards renewed his Motion to Dismiss and filed a supporting memorandum of law. (DE # 27). On January 7, 2011, this Court held a status conference for each of its pending § 4248 cases. Edwards subsequently moved to withdraw his Motion on January 18, 2011 in favor of proceeding “to a hearing as soon as possible.” (DE # 37). On January 20 and February 11, 2011 this Court again held two more status conferences.

On March 7, 2011, Edwards filed an expert report by psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Singer stating that Edwards did not meet the statutory criteria for a sexually dangerous person. (DE # 50).

On March 16th, the Court set a bench trial for March 28, 2011. This was to be the first bench trial for any § 4248 detainee in this district.

[777 F.Supp.2d 989]

Eight days after the Court set a bench trial in this matter, the Government stipulated to dismiss Edwards' case on March 24, 2011. It is uncontested that Edwards had not successfully completed therapy, however, and that no improvement in his condition was evident. The Government's stipulation only stated that “[u]pon a more detailed review of Respondent's condition, the United States is willing to dismiss the case and release the Respondent from custody.” (DE # 53 at 2). This Court ordered dismissal the next day.

The Government's reason for dismissal became clear in a status conference on March 29, 2011. Edwards' counsel notified the Court that on September 22, 2010, psychologist Dr. Demby had submitted a second report to the BOP stating that Edwards did not meet the sexually dangerous criteria. The BOP had based its decision to certify Edwards on Dr. Demby's first report, which evaluated Edwards' risk of recidivism, but did “not render an opinion about his eligibility as a Sexually Dangerous Person.” (DE # 21 at 1.) The Government however only disclosed Dr. Demby's second report on March 23, 2011. The Government moved to dismiss the next day. Edwards thus remained in custody for six months after the Government had evidence they would be unable to carry their burden at a § 4248 hearing.

The Court held a hearing on this issue on April 8, 2011. The Government agreed that it was obligated to disclose this report under the Standing Order, as the report fell under the “medical and psychological record[ ] in possession of the Bureau of Prisons.” (Transcript of Hearing of April 8, 2011 at p. 4); Standing Order 10–S0–01 at ¶ 4(a)(ii). The Government submitted that it acted in good faith. The Government explained that the BOP had given the Government's attorneys its records regarding Edwards on September 9, 2010, shortly before Dr. Demby wrote her second report on September 22. (Tr. at p. 5). The Government later made its disclosures to Edwards on October 4th. Id. The Government stated it only recently learned of Dr. Demby's second report in “preparation for trial” in March. (Tr. at p. 5–6).

The Court has no information as to whether this experience was an isolated event and whether the BOP and Government have failed to disclose similar expert reports in other § 4248 cases. The Government agreed that it had recently dismissed approximately eight § 4248 cases in this district, presumably after the detainees had remained in detention for years with no material change in their conditions. (Tr. at p. 13). The Government...

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14 practice notes
  • People v. McClinton, G055391
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2018
    ...to be no published California opinions that specifically speak to this precise issue. (Compare United States v. Edwards (E.D.N.C. 2011) 777 F.Supp.2d 985, 990 [federal district court held the Brady rule applies to federal civil commitments of sexually dangerous persons].)Nevertheless, the t......
  • Kashem v. Barr, No. 17-35634
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 21, 2019
    ...vacated in part sub nom. al-Najar v. Carter , ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S. Ct. 1581, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2015) ; United States v. Edwards , 777 F. Supp. 2d 985, 991–92 (E.D.N.C. 2011) (civil commitment proceedings for sexually dangerous persons); Dhiab v. Bush , No. 05-1457(GK), 2008 WL 4905489, at ......
  • Brodie v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., Civil Action No. 12–1136 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 27, 2013
    ...and warned against extending its holding. See Extradition of Drayer, 190 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir.1999). United States v. Edwards, 777 F.Supp.2d 985 (E.D.N.C.2011), extended Brady requirements to civil commitment hearings under 18 U.S.C. § 4248 because “[a]t issue is not a claim for damages o......
  • United States v. Searcy, No. 16-6833
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • January 18, 2018
    ...in our circuit have specifically referred to civil commitment actions as civil proceedings. See, e.g. , United States v. Edwards , 777 F.Supp.2d 985, 997 (E.D.N.C. 2011) (describing Adam Walsh civil commitment actions as "civil proceedings that can nonetheless result in prolonged government......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • People v. McClinton, G055391
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2018
    ...to be no published California opinions that specifically speak to this precise issue. (Compare United States v. Edwards (E.D.N.C. 2011) 777 F.Supp.2d 985, 990 [federal district court held the Brady rule applies to federal civil commitments of sexually dangerous persons].)Nevertheless, the t......
  • Kashem v. Barr, No. 17-35634
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 21, 2019
    ...vacated in part sub nom. al-Najar v. Carter , ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S. Ct. 1581, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2015) ; United States v. Edwards , 777 F. Supp. 2d 985, 991–92 (E.D.N.C. 2011) (civil commitment proceedings for sexually dangerous persons); Dhiab v. Bush , No. 05-1457(GK), 2008 WL 4905489, at ......
  • Brodie v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., Civil Action No. 12–1136 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 27, 2013
    ...and warned against extending its holding. See Extradition of Drayer, 190 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir.1999). United States v. Edwards, 777 F.Supp.2d 985 (E.D.N.C.2011), extended Brady requirements to civil commitment hearings under 18 U.S.C. § 4248 because “[a]t issue is not a claim for damages o......
  • United States v. Searcy, No. 16-6833
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • January 18, 2018
    ...in our circuit have specifically referred to civil commitment actions as civil proceedings. See, e.g. , United States v. Edwards , 777 F.Supp.2d 985, 997 (E.D.N.C. 2011) (describing Adam Walsh civil commitment actions as "civil proceedings that can nonetheless result in prolonged government......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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