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United States v. Maclaren

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 2, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Petitioner - Appellee,
v.
DONALD MACLAREN, Respondent - Appellant.

          Argued: May 11, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. Malcolm J. Howard, Senior District Judge. (5:09-hc-02164-H)

         ARGUED:

          Eric Joseph Brignac, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          Michael Lockridge, BUREAU OF PRISONS, Butner, North Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Thomas P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          John Stuart Bruce, Acting United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and DUNCAN and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

          DIAZ, Circuit Judge:

         Donald Maclaren, who is civilly committed pursuant to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, 18 U.S.C. § 4248, appeals the district court's order denying his motion for a discharge hearing. Because we conclude that the district court applied an incorrect standard for determining whether someone confined pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act is entitled to a discharge hearing, we vacate the court's judgment and remand so that it can apply the correct standard in the first instance.

         I.

         A.

         In December 2009, the government certified Maclaren as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act. In February 2013, a court in the Eastern District of North Carolina held that the government had met its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that Maclaren was subject to civil commitment pursuant to the Act and committed him to the custody and care of the Attorney General.

         In its order, the district court recounted Maclaren's personal history and alleged sexual offense history[1] before turning to the three elements that the government must establish before obtaining a commitment order. Those elements are "that the person (1) has engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation, (2) suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder, and (3) as a result, would have serious difficulty refraining from ...


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