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In re Civil Commitment of C.R.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 9, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF C.R., SVP-467-07.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 29, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-467-07.

Patrick Madden, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney).

Justin Conforti, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney).

Before Judges Messano and Lihotz.

PER CURIAM

C.R. is a resident of the Special Treatment Unit (STU), the secure custodial facility designated for the treatment of persons in need of involuntary civil commitment pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (the SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. He appeals from the order of June 19, 2012, that continued his commitment after a hearing, and set May 29, 2013, as the date for his next annual review.[1] C.R. argues that the State failed to present sufficient evidence demonstrating he continues to "suffer[] from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes [him] 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. In particular, C.R. contends that, because he presents a low risk to reoffend, and, because his cognitive limitations hinder any further treatment while he remains confined at the STU, it was appropriate to commence discharge planning. After due consideration of the record and applicable legal standards, we affirm.

C.R. was temporarily committed immediately prior to his release from the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel by order of July 27, 2007. Following an initial commitment hearing, C.R. was committed to the STU by order of June 20, 2008. We affirmed that initial commitment. See In re Civil Commitment of C.R., No. A-5431-07 (App. Div. Dec. 8, 2011).

The hearing that resulted in the order under review occurred June 12, 2012, before Judge Philip M. Freedman. Counsel for C.R. stipulated to the admission of his treatment records and waived cross-examination of any members of the STU's Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC). In his oral decision that followed the hearing, Judge Freedman specifically alluded to the TPRC report, which was critical to his reasoning.

C.R. was in "Phase 2" treatment, "which is the introductory phase of treatment." Judge Freedman noted that in the opinion of the TPRC, C.R. had "not yet demonstrated command over his assault cycle, developed a relapse prevention plan, or an understanding of relapse prevention concepts."

Doctor Alberto Goldwaser, a psychiatrist, testified regarding the June 6, 2012, report of his interview of C.R., and the conclusions he reached therein. Goldwaser noted that C.R. "attends the meetings but does not participate actively." Goldwaser explained that during one session, C.R. "physically demonstrated how he grabbed [his victim] around the throat and squeezed tight[ly]." Goldwaser opined this demonstrated that C.R.'s fantasies "are very powerful, " and the physical demonstration of his crime showed C.R.'s "urge to act." Goldwaser's diagnoses were as follows: Paraphilia NOS, hebephilia, females, with sadistic elements"; "cocaine . . . and alcohol dependence"; and "mild mental retardation."

Although C.R.'s score on the Static-99R test was one, evincing a low risk for re-offense, Goldwaser opined that C.R. was "highly likely to reoffend." He explained that because C.R. "[did not] have a lot of [criminal] charges, " the Static-99R test resulted in "a low score." However, Goldwaser reiterated that C.R. has "only [a] rudimentary understanding of his deviant cycle."

On cross-examination, Goldwaser acknowledged C.R.'s "cognitive limitations, " explaining these were "significant, " but "not the only aspect" of C.R.'s inability to make progress in treatment. Goldwaser testified that, for example, C.R. stated he refused to take classes because he ...


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