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In re Civil Commitment of M.Z.M.

January 11, 2010


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-79-00.

Per curiam.



Argued: October 28, 2009

Before Judges Payne and C.L. Miniman.

M.Z.M. appeals from an order for continued commitment under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. M.Z.M. contends that the State has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that his continued commitment is required. We affirm.

On May 24, 2000, the State first petitioned for civil commitment of M.Z.M., alleging that he was a sexually violent predator. Fourteen years earlier, on August 25 or 26, 1986, M.Z.M. raped a woman at knifepoint. He was arrested the next day. He pled guilty to first-degree armed aggravated sexual assault and was incarcerated for about ten years before he was civilly committed to Ancora Psychiatric Hospital (Ancora), where he remained until the filing of the petition. Seven years prior to the predicate offense, defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and armed robbery in Georgia and was sentenced to ten years at the Rutledge Correctional Institute. He was released on September 14, 1984.

While at the forensic psychiatric hospital, M.Z.M. self-reported that he had raped at least twelve other females; he raped because women put him down; and rape was his method of revenge. While incarcerated M.Z.M. expressed his admiration for, and identification with, other rapists. His self-esteem is predicated on his identity as a rapist. He reported having little, if any, victim empathy and idolizes serial rapists.

During his civil commitment at Ancora, M.Z.M. was caught engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with a developmentally disabled female patient on one occasion and on another occasion was found in possession of pornographic materials and toys. M.Z.M. also self-reported to clinicians at Ancora that when he was nine he threw a boy off a balcony because the boy was "messing around with his girlfriend." He also self-reported that he had a dangerous attraction to a female therapist while at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel (ADTC). Department of Corrections institutional records indicate that M.Z.M. received at least four institutional charges while incarcerated, including one charge for a sexual assault on a mentally retarded female inmate at Ancora; for a threat to rape a female therapist at ADTC; and for throwing a chair at a female psychologist at Ancora.

On June 8, 2000, a judge temporarily civilly committed M.Z.M. to the State of New Jersey's Special Treatment Unit (STU) located in Kearny pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.28. On August 8, 2000, the judge entered a final judgment of commitment following a hearing that day. Defendant's commitment was continued on August 6, 2001; August 6, 2002; July 31, 2003; April 13, 2005; and April 23, 2007.

Defendant appealed the July 31, 2003, continuation of commitment. We affirmed that continuation, finding that the record overwhelmingly supported the trial judge's determination that the State established by clear and convincing evidence that M.Z.M. was a sexually violent predator who was highly likely to reoffend if discharged. In re Civil Commitment of M.Z.M., No. A-1001-03 (App. Div. Nov. 9, 2004) (slip op. at 4-7).

Defendant also appealed the April 23, 2007, continuation of commitment. We affirmed for the reasons expressed by the judge ordering the continued commitment. In re Civil Commitment of M.Z.M., No. A-1822-07 (App. Div. Jun. 25, 2008) (slip op. at 9).

The most recent civil commitment hearing took place on June 19, 2009. Dr. Pogos H. Voskanian, who had testified at the 2007 hearing, testified about his May 27, 2009, evaluation of M.Z.M. and his earlier 2007 evaluation. Voskanian's written May 29, 2009, report was also entered into evidence at trial. The defense stipulated to Voskanian's qualifications.

Voskanian testified that he relied on records and reports of other doctors who had examined M.Z.M. The other doctors' evaluations are referenced in Voskanian's report. Voskanian stated that he found the records particularly important because of M.Z.M.'s past violence, specifically referring to an instance when M.Z.M. "assaulted a mentally retarded female" while at Ancora.

Voskanian's report also includes M.Z.M.'s fantasy about raping a therapist while he was at ADTC. M.Z.M. said that he was "dangerously obsessed with her," "that he would have raped the therapist if he had an opportunity," and that "[s]he needed to be raped." Voskanian acknowledged that, during his nine years in ...

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