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In re Martinelli

August 27, 2002

IN THE MATTER OF: ALEXANDER MARK MARTINELLI.


Hennepin County District Court File No. P89660565

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Parker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Kansas v. Crane, 534 U.S. 407, 122 S. Ct. 867 (2002), requires that there be a finding of "lack of control" of sexual conduct, based on expert opinion tying that "lack of control" to a diagnosed mental abnormality or personality disorder, before a person may be committed as a sexually dangerous person.

2. The district court's finding that appellant lacked "adequate control" of his sexual behavior was based on the requisite expert opinion and diagnosis and therefore established that appellant had a "serious difficulty" in controlling his sexual behavior, as required by Crane.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parker, Judge*fn1

Affirmed

OPINION

This appeal, taken from an order committing appellant Alexander Martinelli as a sexual dangerous person (SDP), has been remanded from the United States Supreme Court for consideration in light of Kansas v. Crane, 534 U.S. 407, 122 S. Ct. 867 (2002). Because we conclude that appellant was committed upon a showing of "lack of control" that complies with Crane, we affirm.

FACTS

Appellant Alexander Martinelli was initially committed in January 1998 as a sexually dangerous person (SDP). At that time, Martinelli was about to be released from prison after serving a sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct. At the initial commitment hearing, the district court heard from a number of witnesses, including some of Martinelli's victims and four expert witnesses. The court dismissed the petition to commit Martinelli as a sexual psychopathic personality (SPP), finding there was not evidence that he had an "utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses," as required under the SPP statute. The court, however, found sufficient evidence to support commitment of Martinelli as an SDP.

At the initial commitment hearing, the court heard testimony from four expert witnesses. Dr. Douglas Fox, the petitioner county's retained expert, concluded that Martinelli's sexual behavior demonstrated an "utter lack of control over his sexual urges," and that he met the criteria for commitment as an SPP. Dr. Fox also concluded Martinelli met the requirements of the SDP statute, which had not yet been construed to require a "lack of control."

Dr. Thomas Alberg, the first court-appointed examiner, testified that Martinelli was a "borderline" SPP, but that, based on many of the relevant criteria, he had an "utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses." However, Dr. Roger Sweet, the second court-appointed examiner, testified that Martinelli did have the power to control his sexual impulses, although his attitude and behavior showed a lack of control. Dr. Sweet testified that Martinelli exhibited impulsive behavior and a lack of responsibility for his sexual conduct but did not meet the SPP requirement of "utter lack of control." The fourth expert, Dr. Richard Friberg, who had examined Martinelli for suicidal intent while Martinelli was incarcerated but had not done an evaluation on him, did not recommend commitment.

Martinelli appealed the initial SDP commitment order. While that appeal was pending, the district court conducted the 60-day review hearing to consider Martinelli's indeterminate commitment. Dr. Anita Schlank, the clinical director of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MNSOP), to which Martinelli had been initially committed, testified there had been no significant change in his condition. Dr. Sweet testified against commitment, as he had at the initial commitment hearing. The district court, however, ordered indeterminate commitment of Martinelli as an SDP.

This court affirmed both Martinelli's initial commitment and his indeterminate commitment in unpublished opinions. In re Martinelli, No. C0-98-1684 (Minn. App. Feb. 23, 1999); In re Martinelli, No. C6-98-569 (Minn. App. Sept. 15, 1998). The supreme court granted further review in both appeals, limited to the issue of whether the SDP statute was constitutional despite the absence of a "lack of control" standard. At the time, the issue ...


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