Matthew B. Griffin, Appellant,
Kari Bruffett, Secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging and Disability Services, Appellee.
BY THE COURT
K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 59-29a01(b) declares that all time
requirements referenced in the Sexually Violent Predator Act
(SVPA) are directory rather than mandatory, it is clear that
persons confined under the SVPA are entitled to yearly review
and recommitment. See K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 59-29a08. However,
there is no requirement that the annual review hearing must
be held prior to the anniversary date of the sexually violent
predator's (SVP) original civil commitment.
a commitment under the SVPA is only valid for a year, absent
a court order of recommitment there must be a point at which
each year becomes final for purposes of challenging
confinement during that period.
receipt of the annual written notice of the right to petition
for release, a person confined as an SVP is put on notice
that a recommitment order is imminent. So even if the court
fails to enter a recommitment order, the filing of the annual
evaluation and notice of right or waiver would be a
sufficient indication of finality of the prior
year's commitment to start the 30-day clock for filing
any challenge to said commitment.
third factor that is considered in the context of determining
whether a showing of manifest injustice saves an untimely
K.S.A. 60-1507 motion is whether the movant made a colorable
claim of actual innocence. While there is no direct corollary
to a claim of actual innocence in the context of an untimely
K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 60-1501 petition raised by an SVP
contesting his or her continued confinement, it is reasonable
to require some showing that there has been a change in the
petitioner's mental or physical health such that
continued confinement is no longer necessary.
from Pawnee District Court; Bruce T. Gatterman, judge.
Matthew B. Griffin, appellant pro se.
C. Clark, assistant solicitor general, and Derek Schmidt,
attorney general, for appellee.
Pierron, P.J., Atcheson and Arnold-Burger, JJ.
Kansas, as in a few other states, once you have completed
your prison term on a sexually violent crime, the State may
seek to have you involuntarily civilly committed to a state
hospital upon a determination by a jury that you are a
sexually violent predator. The United States Supreme Court
has upheld this process to be constitutional, and our Supreme
Court has followed suit. Kansas v. Hendricks, 521
U.S. 346, 117 S.Ct. 2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997); In re
Care & Treatment of Hay, 263 Kan. 822, 953 P.2d 666
(1998). But a key part of the process is an annual review by
a judge to determine whether the individual's mental
status remains such that he or she is still a danger to
society. As the United States Supreme Court stated in
Hendricks, this prevents the civil commitment
process from simply being another form of punishment for the
same offense. 521 U.S. at 364.
B. Griffin has been involuntarily confined to Larned State
Hospital for treatment as a sexually violent predator (SVP)
since 2009. For 4 of the first 6 years of his confinement,
even though an annual evaluation was completed by the State
indicating the necessity for continued confinement, there was
no judicial overview of that process as required by K.S.A.
2015 Supp. 59-29a08. As a result, he filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus claiming that his statutory and
constitutional rights were so severely violated that his
confinement in the Sexual Predator Treatment Program (SPTP)
has been illegal since 2010. He further asserts that the only
possible remedy for the harm he has suffered is immediate
release. The district court summarily dismissed the petition.
Although we are troubled by the general lack of attention by
the district court to the periodic review component of due
process for persons confined under the Kansas Sexually
Violent Predator Act (SVPA), we must agree that summary
dismissal was proper under the unique facts of this case, for
the reasons we set out below.
and Procedural History
facts are not in dispute and are outlined as set forth in the
district court order denying Griffin's petition.
• January 2, 2009: Griffin was
determined to be an SVP and was committed to the SPTP at
Larned State Hospital.
• December 2009: First annual
examination completed finding that Griffin was not a suitable
candidate for transitional release.
• February 2010: Griffin acknowledges
receipt of the annual notice, and the report was submitted to
the Saline District Court but was never placed in the court
• 2010: No court order was ever entered
recommitting Griffin pursuant to the first annual report.
• February 2011: Second annual
• May 2011: Griffin agreed to remain in
treatment and waived his right to further proceedings.
• May 27, 2011: Saline County District
Court entered order continuing Griffin's commitment to
• December 29, 2011: Third annual
examination completed finding that Griffin's mental
abnormality or personality disorder had not so changed that
it would be safe for him to be placed in transitional
• January 17, 2012: Griffin
acknowledged receipt of the annual notice and signed below
the following statement: "'If I desire to pursue
further proceedings in this matter, I understand that I must
initiate those separately from this response.'" The
report was forwarded to the Saline District Court, but it
does not appear in the court file.
• 2012: No court order was ever entered
recommitting Griffin pursuant to the third annual report.
• December 2012: Fourth annual
examination was completed. Griffin acknowledged receipt of
the annual notice and signed below the following statement:
"'If I desire to pursue further proceedings in this
matter, I understand that I must initiate those separately
from this response.'" The report was forwarded to
the Saline District Court and to ...