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In re Care and Treatment of Lieurance


Opinion Vote: AFFIRMED.

Barney, P.J., Prewitt and Garrison, JJ., concur.


Robert L. Lieurance ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding that he is a sexually violent predator ("SVP") as defined by Missouri's SVP statute, and committing him involuntarily to the Missouri Department of Mental Health ("DMH") pursuant to that statute. See Sections 632.480-513. In two points on appeal, Appellant argues that his commitment as an SVP violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection in that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to commit him under the SVP statute because of the applicability of the doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction, and because Appellant, having been committed under the now-defunct criminal sexual psychopath ("CSP") law, Sections 202.700-770, RSMo (1978) (repealed 1980), was denied equal protection of the law. We disagree with both arguments and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Appellant does not contend here that the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court's finding that Appellant is an SVP, making a lengthy recitation of Appellant's behavioral history unnecessary. Suffice it to state the following: Appellant has been in the custody and care of DMH for the past twenty-five years, since a trial court committed him in 1979 as a CSP. In 2000, Appellant sought conditional release from the custody of DMH. At that time, DMH officials notified the attorney general of Missouri that Appellant might meet the criteria for being declared an SVP. Pursuant to Section 632.483.4, a multi-disciplinary committee was convened to determine whether Appellant met the definition of an SVP. The committee answered that question affirmatively, after which finding a prosecutor review committee reviewed Appellant's records and also determined that Appellant met the definition of an SVP.

On May 26, 2000 the attorney general, pursuant to Section 632.486, filed a petition in the trial court seeking commitment of Appellant as an SVP. The trial court, following a hearing held on September 20, 2000, found that probable cause existed to believe Appellant was an SVP and ordered a psychological evaluation of Appellant pursuant to Section 632.489.4.

Appellant waived his right to trial by jury and a bench trial was had on June 24-25, 2002, during which the court heard testimony from several expert witnesses for the State, as well as the testimony of Appellant. Two of the State's expert witnesses, after interviewing Appellant and reviewing the entirety of his record, concurred in their separate diagnoses of Appellant as suffering from pedophilia, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Both agreed that Appellant was more likely than not to re-offend if released from the custody of DMH.

The trial court determined, following trial, that Appellant met the definition of an SVP and ordered him committed as such to the custody of DMH. Appellant filed a post-trial motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction or, alternatively, to reconsider the judgment, upon which the trial court never ruled. This appeal followed.

In his first point, Appellant challenges the jurisdiction of the trial court to commit him to the custody of DMH as an SVP. Appellant claims that to do so was a violation of his right to due process because he was already committed to DMH as a CSP, a commitment which was in "full force and effect until terminated by a court" and that "the concurrent jurisdiction doctrine confers jurisdiction a matter the first court to act, and denies jurisdiction to a subsequent court over the same matter."

The standard of revie

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