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In re Civil Commitment of J.L.N.

December 28, 2007

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF J.L.N. SVP #197-01.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, SVP-197-01.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 31, 2007

Before Judges Parker and R. B. Coleman.

J.L.N. appeals from a judgment entered on May 17, 2007 continuing his commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU) pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. 30:4- 27.24 to -27.38.

J.L.N. was temporarily committed in September 2001 pending a final hearing. The evidence presented at the final hearing established that he was a sexually violent predator and he was committed pursuant to a judgment entered on April 23, 2002. The judgment was appealed and we remanded for reconsideration in light of In re Commitment of W.Z., 173 N.J. 109 (2002). After the remand hearing, J.L.N. was again committed to the STU. His commitment was continued after a review hearing in May 2003. In March 2004, the trial court ordered the STU to develop a conditional release plan for J.L.N. to include provisions for close intensive supervision, sex offender treatment, a residential placement, employment, community and family support. The STU developed the plan for gradual reintegration of J.L.N. into society and, on September 22, 2004, he was conditionally discharged.

Less than two weeks later, the State sought to revoke J.L.N.'s conditional discharge on the grounds that he had violated several of its provisions, notably by leaving the State, not reporting to parole and failing to reside at the approved residence. After hearing the evidence, Judge Freedman denied the State's petition [to rescind the conditional discharge] finding that the evidence of violation was insufficient. The judge did, however, order increased restrictions including imposing a curfew and limiting his place of residence to the marital home. A month later, at the request of his parole officer, J.L.N. was ordered to be placed on 24-hour electronic monitoring.

On April 19, 2005, the State made an ex parte application for an order to apprehend J.L.N. and return him to custody based on alleged violations of the conditional release order. Witness testimony presented by the State in support of that application included allegations that J.L.N. had beaten his wife and that his wife's safety was at risk, and that the therapist who had reported this violence to the court could also be in peril. The State contended that the physical aggression toward his wife indicated that he was again entering a sex offense cycle.

Based on that testimony, Judge Perretti granted the State's application to return J.L.N. to the STU pending a hearing. Prior to that hearing, which began on May 11, 2005, the State filed an amended petition for civil commitment setting forth in detail the factual basis for its request that J.L.N.'s conditional discharge be revoked. That amended petition was filed on April 29, 2005.

Judge Freedman heard testimony on June 15 and June 22, 2005 and rendered a decision on July 5, 2005 revoking J.L.N.'s conditional discharge and returning him to the STU.

[In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of J.L.N. SVP #197-01, App. Div. Docket No. A-6425-04T2 at 3-5 (2006).]

J.L.N. appealed from the order revoking his conditional discharge and we affirmed. Ibid. This appeal follows the May 2007 review hearing and order continuing J.L.N.'s commitment. At the May 2007 hearing, the State presented the testimony of Dr. Pogos Voskanian, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist. Dr. Voskanian examined J.L.N. on February 9, 2007 to determine whether he continued to be at risk as a sexually violent predator. At the conclusion of his report, Dr. Voskanian noted:

That [J.L.N.] is an articulate and intelligent individual, who can well formulate a pathology, fabricate a story, present it in a convincing manner, and con his treatment providers into believing him to be sincerely involved in treatment and making progress in adopting new behaviors that would decrease his risk for future ...


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