The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM BASSLER, District Judge
Plaintiffs brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the
Federal District Court of New Jersey as a class action on behalf
of all similarly situated prisoners facing involuntary civil
commitment pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. § 30:4-27.24 et seq. Plaintiffs allege in Count
Three and Count Four of their Third Amended Complaint that their
rights to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment were
violated because they were denied notice and an opportunity to be
heard during the screening and referral process for involuntary
Defendants are individuals, state agencies, and private
entities involved in the involuntary civil commitment process.
The Defendants now move to dismiss Counts Three and Four for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1343. Venue is proper pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1391.
For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' motion to
dismiss is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs Paul Timmendequas, William Whelan, Mickey Vanderpool
and Gary Sigman filed suit on behalf of all similarly situated
individuals. The named Plaintiffs represent a class of current
and former New Jersey prisoners (collectively referred to as
"Plaintiffs") who were convicted of sexual offenses and subject
to the screening and referral process for involuntary civil commitment under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator
Act (the "Act"), and were at one time or are currently confined
to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC").
(Plaintiffs' Brief In Opposition To State Defendants' Motion To
Dismiss (hereinafter "Plaintiffs' Brief") at 6.)
Defendants are Devon Brown, Commissioner of the New Jersey
Department of Corrections ("DOC"), Richard Cevasco, Director of
Psychological Services for the DOC, Thomas Farrell, DOC Medical
Services, Grace Rogers, Administrator of the ADTC, and Peter
Harvey, Attorney General of New Jersey (collectively referred to
as the "Defendants").*fn1 *fn2
Plaintiffs allege in Counts Three and Four of their Third
Amended Complaint that Defendants violated their rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regard to
their civil commitment under the Act.*fn3 Plaintiffs seek
equitable relief in the form of a Temporary Restraining Order as
well as Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions against the Defendants to
prevent them from carrying out the screening and referral process
mandated by the Act. Defendants now move to dismiss Counts Three
and Four pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The issue before
the Court, therefore, is not whether the entire involuntary civil
commitment process under the Act provides adequate process but
rather whether procedural protections are required at the
B. The Process For Involuntary Civil Commitment Under The New
Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act
The New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A.
30:4-27.24 et seq., provides for the involuntary civil commitment
of an individual deemed to be a sexually violent predator
("SVP"). In passing the Act, the New Jersey Legislature made
specific findings regarding SVPs. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.25. The
Legislature noted that certain individuals who commit sex
offenses suffer from mental abnormalities which make them likely
to engage in repeat acts of predatory sexual violence if not
treated. Ibid. The Legislature deemed it necessary to modify
the previous civil commitment framework and additionally separate
involuntarily committed SVPs from other persons who have been
civilly committed. Ibid. The Act defines a SVP as:
. . . a person who has been convicted, adjudicated
delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity
for commission of a sexually violent offense, or has
been charged with a sexually violent offense but found to be
incompetent to stand trial, and suffers from mental
abnormality or personality disorder that makes the
person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if
not confined in a secure facility for control, care
and treatment. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26(b).
When it appears that a person may meet the criteria of a SVP,
the "agency with jurisdiction" is mandated to provide notice to
the Attorney General ninety days, or as soon as practicable,
prior to the anticipated release of a person who has been
convicted of a sexually violent offense. N.J.S.A.
30:42-7.27(a)(1). The "agency with jurisdiction" means the agency
which releases a person who is serving a sentence or term of
confinement. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26. The term includes the New
Jersey Department of Corrections. Ibid.
Both parties have made reference to a committee within the New
Jersey Department of Corrections that makes the initial
evaluation of an inmate for referral to the Attorney General.
(See Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint 25 (hereinafter
"Complaint"); Defendant's Motion To Dismiss Counts Three and Four
(hereinafter "Defendant's Brief") at 10; 09-15-05 Transcript of
Oral Argument at 9, ¶ 11-12 (hereinafter "Transcript").) The
parties have identified this committee as the "Institutional
Release Committee", the "Inmate Release Committee", and the
"IRC". Id. Neither party, however, cites any legislative
mandate within the Act, or elsewhere, describing the makeup or functional responsibility of this committee.*fn4
If the Attorney General determines that public safety warrants
the involuntary civil commitment of a SVP, the Attorney General
may initiate a court proceeding by presenting to a judge for
immediate review the certification of two doctors, one of whom
must be a psychiatrist, who have examined the person no more than
three days before the petition for commitment. N.J.S.A.
30:4-27.28; 30:4-27.26 (emphasis added); see also In the
Matter of the Commitments of M.G. and D.C., 331 N.J.Super. 365,
373 (2000). Upon receipt of these documents, the court must
determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the
person is a sexually violent predator. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.28(f).
If the court so finds, it will issue an order setting a date for
a final hearing and authorizing temporary commitment to a secure
facility designated for the custody, care and treatment of SVPs
pending the final hearing. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.28(f). The final
hearing must be conducted within twenty days of the temporary
commitment. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.29(a). At least ten days prior to
the final hearing, the SVP and their counsel are to be provided
with copies of ...