State v. John Lee Laxton, 2002 WI 82, affirming unpublished court of appeals decision
(Affirmed on habeas review, John L. Laxton v. Bartow, 421 F.3d 565 (7th Cir 2005))
For Laxton: Margaret A. Maroney, SPD, Madison Appellate
Issue: Whether ch. 980 is unconstitutional by failing to adequately narrow the class of commitment subjects to those with serious difficulty controlling dangerous behavior.
Holding: SVP commitment doesn’t require separate finding of serious difficulty controlling behavior; the overall scheme imposes the necessary nexus:
¶22. Wisconsin ch. 980 satisfies this due process requirement because the statute requires a nexus between the mental disorder and the individual’s dangerousness. Proof of this nexus necessarily and implicitly involves proof that the person’s mental disorder involves serious difficulty for the person to control his or her behavior. The definition of a sexually violent person requires, in part, that the individual is “dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence.” Wis. Stat. § 980.01(7) (emphasis added). As we recognized in Post, these statutory requirements do not sweep too broadly. The nexus–linking a mental disorder with dangerousness by requiring that the mental disorder predispose the individual to engage in acts of sexual violence–narrowly tailors the scope of ch. 980 to those most dangerous sexual offenders whose mental condition predisposes them to re-offend.¶23. We conclude that the same nexus between the mental disorder and the substantial probability that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence, necessarily and implicitly requires proof that the person’s mental disorder involves serious difficulty for such person in controlling his or her behavior. It is settled law that “substantially probable” means “much more likely than not.” State v. Curiel, 227 Wis. 2d 389, 406, 597 N.W.2d 697 (1999). Thus, proof that due to a mental disorder it is substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence necessarily and implicitly includes proof that such person’s mental disorder involves serious difficulty in controlling his or her sexually dangerous behavior. Chapter 980, therefore, satisfies due process requirements. Proof that a person is sexually violent necessarily and implicitly includes proof that the person’s mental disorder includes serious difficulty in controlling his or her behavior, and this requisite proof distinguishes a dangerous sexual offender who has serious difficulty controlling his or her behavior from a dangerous but typical recidivist. chapter 980 is narrowly tailored to meet compelling state interests.