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In re Civil Commitment of Benson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 2, 2013

In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of: Michael D. Benson.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Douglas County District Court File No. 21-P4-93-000117

Michael Benson, Moose Lake, Minnesota (pro se appellant)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Noah A. Cashman, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Chad M. Larson, Douglas County Attorney, Alexandria, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Johnson, Judge; Rodenberg, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.

JOHNSON, Judge.

In 1993, Michael D. Benson was civilly committed as a sexual psychopathic personality (SPP). In 2013, Benson brought a motion for relief from the district court's commitment order pursuant to rule 60.02(e) of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court denied the motion. The district court also denied Benson's motion for appointment of counsel in connection with his rule 60.02(e) motion. We affirm.

FACTS

In his motion for relief under rule 60.02(e), Benson alleged that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) has failed to provide him with adequate treatment and that the inadequacy of his treatment constitutes "changed circumstances, " which entitles him to an evidentiary hearing. At the same time, Benson moved for the appointment of counsel to assist him with the rule 60.02(e) motion.

The district court denied Benson's rule 60.02(e) motion. The district court determined that, although Benson requested only an evidentiary hearing, Benson's motion implicitly requested a transfer or discharge from his commitment. The district court concluded that Benson's rule 60.02(e) motion is barred by provisions of the Commitment Act that provide the exclusive remedies for an SPP who seeks transfer or discharge from his civil commitment. The district court also denied Benson's motion for appointment of counsel. Benson appeals.

DECISION

I. Rule 60.02(e) Motion

Benson argues that the district court erred by denying his motion for relief under rule 60.02(e). Specifically, Benson argues that MSOP's failure to provide adequate treatment constitutes "changed circumstances, " which entitles him to an evidentiary hearing.

Rule 60.02(e) permits a district court to relieve a party from a final order or judgment and order a new trial or other appropriate relief if "it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application." Minn. R. Civ. P. 60.02(e). We review a district court's decision on a rule 60.02 motion for abuse of discretion. In re Welfare of Children of Coats, 633 N.W.2d 505, 510 (Minn. 2001); In re ...


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