United States v. Ebel, No. 5:10-HC-2124-BO

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtTERRENCE W. BOYLE
Decision Date28 September 2011
PartiesUNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Petitioner, v. PETER M. EBEL, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 5:10-HC-2124-BO

PETER M. EBEL, Respondent.

No. 5:10-HC-2124-BO


Dated: September 28, 2011


On November 22, 2010, Peter M. Ebel ("Ebel" or "respondent") filed a motion to dismiss [D.E. 7] the government's petition for his commitment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4248. The government responded in opposition and the matter is ripe for ruling.

Respondent relies, in part, on arguments originally made in United States v. Comstock, No. 5:06-HC-2195-BR (E.D.N.C.) [D.E. 12, 19]. (Mot. Dismiss [D.E. 7] at 3). On May 17, 2010, the Supreme Court, in United States v. Comstock, 130 S. Ct. 1949 (2010), upheld 18 U.S.C. § 4248 as valid under the Necessary and Proper Clause and remanded Comstock to the Fourth Circuit for further proceedings. Upon remand, the Fourth Circuit held that the "clear and convincing evidence" standard by which the government must prove an individual is sexually dangerous for purposes of commitment under § 4248 does not violate the constitutional guarantee of due process. United States v. Comstock, 627 F.3d 513, 524 (4th Cir. 2010). Therefore, the appellate decisions in Comstock provide no grounds on which to grant respondent's motion to dismiss.

Respondent further asserts "that § 4248 commitment is premature and unnecessary because he has an unserved term of supervised release that will allow him the opportunity to show that such commitment is not warranted." (Mot. Dismiss [D.E. 7] at 4), In making this argument, respondent relies on this court's decision in United States v. Broncheau, 759 F. Supp. 2d 682 (E.D.N.C. 2010).

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(Mot. Dismiss [D.E. 7] at 4, 8). The Fourth Circuit overturned this decision. United States v. Broncheau, 645 F.3d 676 (4th Cir. 2011). Accordingly, respondent's reliance on Broncheau provides no support for dismissal.

Next, respondent argues that even though § 4248 provides a means of conditionally releasing sexually dangerous persons into the community, see 18 U.S.C. § 4248(e)(2), "this approach will not ensure that Mr. Ebel will ever have the opportunity to be released from custody." (Mot. Dismiss [D.E. 7] at 5). This argument is premature because respondent has not yet been committed pursuant to § 4248. Furthermore, the argument is without merit because the statute provides the court with discretion to authorize conditional release, and a respondent may ask the court for a hearing on such a request at any time 180 days after the court denied his last request. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247(h), 4248(e); Comstock, 627 F.3d at 521-22 ("[A] committed person's counsel or guardian may. . . ask the court to order discharge and, if denied, renew this request repeatedly every 180 days after a denial."). The mere speculation that respondent may never be able to secure his release is not grounds to dismiss the present action.

Respondent also argues that "the stigma of being labeled a 'sexually dangerous person' is a lifelong burden that [an] individual [J must endure above and beyond the requirements to register as a sex offender." (Mot. Dismiss [D.E. 7] at 6). However, as the Fourth Circuit has explained, "there is no constitutional right to be free from stigma." Iota Xi Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity v. Patterson, 566 F.3d 138, 147 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 706-10 (1976)). As a result, respondent's...

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