United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court following petitioner's
motion to commit respondent, Richard Arthur Schmidt, as a
sexually dangerous person pursuant to the Adam Walsh Child
Protection and Safety Act of 2006, 18 U.S.C. § 4248. For
the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Mr. Schmidt is
not sexually dangerous and orders his release from
("the government") instituted this civil action
pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code, Section
4248(a), seeking to commit respondent Schmidt
("respondent" or "Mr. Schmidt") as a
sexually dangerous person pursuant to the Adam Walsh Child
Protection and Safety Act of 2006 ("the Act"). The
government filed a certificate stating that mental health
personnel for the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP")
had examined the respondent and issued a preliminary
determination that he was a sexually dangerous person within
the meaning of the Act [DE 1]. This is the second such
certificate filed against this respondent; a previous
certification was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
following respondent's successful § 2255 motion,
which was later reversed by the Fourth Circuit. United
States v. Schmidt, 845 F.3d 153 (4th Cir. 2017).
certificate stayed the respondent's release from federal
custody pending a hearing to determine whether the respondent
qualifies for commitment as a sexually dangerous person. The
government's petition was filed on January 11, 2017.
Respondent's projected release date was January 20, 2017.
January 10, 2018, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing
in this matter pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4247(d). The
hearing concluded after testimony from a final expert on
January 24, 2018. The government filed proposed findings of
fact and conclusions of law on January 9, 2017. The
respondent filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of
law on February 21, 2018. Pursuant to Rule 52(a)(1) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and after due consideration
of the evidence, presented and arguments of counsel, the
Court adopts in part respondent's findings of fact and
conclusions of law, specifically respondent's Factual
Background section. [DE 67 at 2-8]. The Court now holds that
the government has failed to satisfy its burden to show by
clear and convincing evidence that Respondent is sexually
dangerous to others as defined by the Adam Walsh Act.
preliminary matter, this Court addresses respondent's
statute of limitations argument. Respondent argues that
because commitment under § 4248 is a civil action, the
normal four-year civil statute of limitations applies.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a). Respondent began his
term of incarceration on August 26, 2004. His certificate was
filed on January 11, 2017, and the hearing in the action was
held on January 10, 2018. Accordingly, respondent claims, the
statute of limitations period began to run in 2004.
Fourth Circuit held recently that the civil statute of
limitations does not apply in cases under the Adam Walsh Act.
United States v. Searcy, 880 F.3d 116 (4th Cir.
2018). There, the Court found because those certified as
sexually dangerous must be in federal custody at the time of
certification, a de facto statute of limitations period
already exists, and the additional catch-all period under 28
U.S.C. § 1658(a) is unnecessary. Id. at 122.
The Court went on to find that these proceedings are not
civil actions as envisioned by the statute. Id. at
124. Respondent's argument is entirely based on 28 U.S.C.
§ 1658(a). As the above case squarely addresses the
question, respondent's motion is denied.
order the commitment of a respondent pursuant to § 4248,
a court must conclude, after an evidentiary hearing at which
the government bears the burden of proof by clear and
convincing evidence, that the respondent is as "sexually
dangerous person" as defined by the Act. The government
must show that (1) the respondent has engaged in or attempted
to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation;
(2) that the respondent suffers from a serious mental
illness, abnormality, or disorder; and (3) as a result of
which he would have serious difficulty in refraining from
sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released. 18
U.S.C. § 4248(d).). "[C]lear and convincing has
been defined as evidence of such weight that it produces in
the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction,
without hesitancy, as to the truth of the allegations sought
to be established, and, as well, as evidence that proves the
facts at issue to be highly probable." Jimenez v.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., 269 F.3d 439, 450 (4th Cir. 2001)
(internal quotation marks, citations, and alterations
omitted). If the Court finds that the government has
satisfied its burden, the individual must be committed to a
suitable facility for mental treatment until he is determined
to no longer be sexually dangerous to.others. 18 U.S.C.
Whether the respondent has engaged or attempted to engage in
sexually violent conduct or child molestation.
Court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that
respondent has attempted to engage in child molestation. As
the Fourth Circuit noted when reversing the district
court's grant of respondent's § 2255 motion,
respondent's convictions for sex offenses involving young
boys are extensive and date back to 1984. United States
v. Schmidt, 845 F.3d 153, 155 (4th Cir. 2017).
Respondent was convicted of the federal crime that led to his
current period of incarceration because he traveled to the
Philippines and Cambodia and engaged in sexual contact with
minor males. Respondent does not dispute this element, and
all expert testimony aligned in agreement. This prong has
Whether the respondent currently suffers from a serious
mental illness, abnormality, or disorder.
its burden on this second prong, the government must prove by
clear and convincing evidence that respondent "suffers
from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or
disorder." 18 U.S.C. § 4248(d). Civil commitment is
limited to individuals whose mental illness renders them
dangerous beyond their control. United States v.
Francis,686 F.3d 265, 275 (4th Cir. 2012). The
determination of whether an individual's mental illness
rises to ...