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Meyer v. State

July 26, 2006

ROBERT J. MEYER, PETITIONER,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Linares, District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on pro se petitioner Robert J. Meyer's petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, the petition will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statement of Facts

The facts of this case were recounted below and this Court, affording the state court's factual determinations the appropriate deference, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), will simply reproduce the Appellate Division's factual recitation, as set forth in its July 6, 2004 per curiam Opinion on petitioner's direct appeal from the July 30, 2002 order continuing his commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act ("SVPA"), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to 30:4-27.38:

R.J.M.'s history as demonstrated through testimony and other evidence at the commitment hearing was as follows. On September 4, 1989, he was arrested, and on October 11, 1989, charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of sexual assault, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The charges arose from appellant's sexual assaults of a two-and-one-half-year-old girl and her one-year-old brother.

Appellant had been staying with the children's father at a motel in Somers Point for one month. The father cared for the children on the weekends that he was not working. On September 3, 1989, his car had broken down and had to be towed, but the tow truck driver would not allow the children in the truck. The father left them with the appellant for approximately two-and-one-half hours. When he returned, he found blood on his daughter's panties when he took her to the bathroom. She said that appellant had hurt her. The father took the girl to the hospital the next day. Appellant was arrested and admitted to digitally penetrating the girl while masturbating. He told police that he also had fondled the boy.

Appellant pled guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to sixteen years at Avenel, with a six-year parole disqualifier.

Appellant had also been convicted in 1981 as a twelve-year-old juvenile offender because he had molested his three-year-old niece over a three year period. In 1984 he was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a six-year-old boy and sentenced to three years incarceration in North Carolina. His next offense was the 1989 incident in New Jersey. Appellant admitted, however, to approximately sixty victims, male and female, ranging in age from one to fifteen years old.

Appellant related to various psychiatrists that he had been raped by a family friend several times beginning at age eleven, and then abused by his brother-in-law each weekend for three years beginning at age twelve. His brother-in-law paid him for oral sex and intercourse and threatened him. Appellant reported being molested by a half-brother and another family in-law while in his teens.

A May 12, 2000 termination report from Avenel indicated appellant had "poor institutional adjustment," incurring forty-one disciplinary charges that included charges of aggressive behavior. Appellant was in "treatment refusal status" from April 1997 to June 1999.

Kern*fn1 diagnosed appellant with pedophilia, impulse control disorder, a personality disorder NOS(Not Otherwise Specified), and excessive use of alcohol and marijuana, which lowered his resistance to impulses. At the STU, appellant refused to take the Prozac that had been prescribed for him. Appellant had made only "minimal progress" while there. He attended only half the sessions and group meetings and had shown no enthusiasm or interest in his treatment. He required "very intensive treatment over a long period of time" to alleviate his pedophilia but treatment would not be effective without his active participation. He had difficulty following rules and regulations and had a prolonged problem keeping himself and his room clean. He also continued to smoke in his room, despite the danger. According to Kern, appellant "does whatever he damn well pleases."

Appellant told Kern that his fantasies were of his wife and former girlfriends, and that he did not think of children in a sexual way. In Kern's opinion it was highly likely that appellant would reoffend based on his long history of pedophilia, difficulty in interacting with people his own age and resistance to treatment.

The judge noted that appellant "has had sex with children almost all of his life" and that some of his victims were "hardly more than babies." Appellant's "deeply ingrained and lengthy habit" was "not going to change" absent "long hard treatment." Appellant's non-compliance with medication and failure to participate in the program in a meaningful way indicated that he continued to hurt himself, rather than do "what's in his interest to get better." Appellant had not dealt with his own victimization and continued to have difficulty controlling his behavior. His history at Avenel and his current behavior indicated that "his ability to control himself is highly compromised."

The judge found appellant's difficulty with personal hygiene and smoking to be "an aggressive act towards others." She concluded that appellant's control was "grossly reduced" and that he suffered from "abnormal mental disorders or conditions, and personality disorders, which affect[ed] his volitional, emotional, and cognitive abilities, so as to predispose him to commit sexually violent acts."

(July 6, 2004 Appellate Division Opinion, at pp. 3-6).*fn2

B. Procedural History

On May 4, 1990, a judgment of conviction was entered against petitioner, Robert J. Meyer ("Meyer"), pursuant to his guilty plea, on one count of first degree aggravated sexual assault. Meyer was sentenced to 16 years in prison, with a six year parole disqualifier, at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC") for sex offenders in Avenel, based on a finding by a clinical psychologist that petitioner's behavior exhibited "repetitive, compulsive elements." Meyer served almost eleven years of his sentence.

On June 28, 2000, shortly before Meyer's scheduled release from prison, the State filed a petition for involuntary civil commitment of Meyer pursuant to the SVPA, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 et seq. An Order for temporary civil commitment was entered on July 5, 2000. A final commitment hearing was scheduled before the Honorable Serena Perretti, J.S.C. on July 25, 2000. At that time, Meyer was ordered committed for one year. He had subsequent review hearings on July 26, 2001 and January 29, 2002, at which Meyer stipulated to his continued commitment.

On July 30, 2002, a fourth review hearing was held before Judge Perretti. Meyer made a motion for a jury trial, which was denied. At the conclusion of testimony and evidence, Judge Perretti found that Meyer was a sexually violent predator and ordered his continued commitment for one year.*fn3 Meyer filed a timely appeal to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. On July 6, 2004, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's order of commitment. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on November 16, 2004.

Meyer filed this federal habeas petition on August 16, 2005. An answer to the petition was filed by the respondents on January 9, 2006. Meyer filed objections to the answer on February 16, 2006.

II. STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

In his habeas petition, Meyer raises the following claims for habeas relief:

Ground One: Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a jury trial in his SVPA commitment proceedings necessary to protect his liberty interest.

Ground Two: The trial judge relied on petitioner's constitutional right not to be forcefully medicated in deciding his ...


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