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July 22, 2012

Do US civil commitment procedures risk a "flagrant denial" of human rights?

The question in the title of this post is my response to this (slightly dated) article from the UK's Independent, which is headlined "Court blocks Shawn Sullivan's US extradition."  (Many thanks to the helpful reader who altered me to a story that developed the same day as the SCOTUS health care ruling).  Here is the basic back story:

US government attempts to extradite from Britain a man accused of child sex crimes were blocked by the High Court.... [as] judges sitting in London allowed an appeal against extradition by fugitive Shawn Sullivan, 43, after the American authorities refused to give an assurance that he would not be placed on a controversial sex offenders treatment programme in Minnesota.

Sullivan has been described as one of the US's most-wanted alleged sex criminals, and has also been convicted of sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls in Ireland. His lawyers argued he could be declared "sexually dangerous" and placed on the US programme without a trial and with no hope of release.

Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Eady ruled on June 20 there was a real risk that, if extradited, Sullivan would be subjected to an order of civil commitment to the treatment programme in a "flagrant denial" of his human rights. The judges then gave the US government a last opportunity to provide an assurance that there would be no commitment order made.

Today Lord Justice Moses announced it had been confirmed by the Americans in a post-judgment note that "the United States will not provide an assurance", and Sullivan's appeal under the 2003 Extradition Act was therefore allowed. "The appellant will be discharged from the proceedings," said the judge.

Sullivan, who has joint Irish-US nationality, is wanted to stand trial for allegedly abusing three American girls in the mid-1990s. He was arrested in London in June 2010 while living with Ministry of Justice policy manager Sarah Smith, 34, in Barnes, south-west London. They married while he was held at Wandsworth Prison, before he was granted bail.

His counsel Ben Brandon said at a one-day hearing in April that no one had been released from the treatment programme, operated by the Department of Human Services in Minnesota, since it began in its current form in 1988. Commitment usually followed a person completing a prison sentence but a criminal conviction was not necessary for it to take place, said Mr Brandon. Aaron Watkins, appearing for the US government, told the court Sullivan did not satisfy the criteria for civil commitment but agreed no assurances had been given.

The judges ruled there was a real risk Sullivan would face commitment and a flagrant denial of his right not to suffer loss of liberty without due process, a right protected by Article 5.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Justice Moses said under the programme "there is no requirement that the offences took place recently nor, indeed, that the misconduct resulted in conviction, provided that the misconduct is substantiated by credible evidence". Mr Justice Eady said the risk of a flagrant denial of human rights was "more than fanciful".

The full ruling referenced in this news account is available at this link, and here are key passage from the ruling:

Civil commitment is unknown to European law, but is a process available in 20 states in the United States. Minnesota's law is said to be more draconian than many others.... [The] Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) for the State of Minnesota ... reports that the standard for commitment is relatively low, and many sexual offenders qualify for commitment.......[and] of the 600 committed since 1988, the evidence suggests that not one has been released, even on a conditional, supervised basis....

[T]he essential and justifiable purpose of these proceedings is to ensure that the appellant faces the trial he ought to face in respect of the serious allegations made against him. It is plainly in the interests of justice that he should face such a trial. Extradition is not being sought for the purposes of civil commitment....

[But] I conclude that there is a real risk that if returned Mr Sullivan will be the subject of an order of civil commitment ... [and] that there is a real risk that if extradited the appellant might be subject to an order for civil commitment within Minnesota and that that amounts to a risk that he would suffer a flagrant denial of his rights enshrined in [Art. 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights].

July 22, 2012 at 02:09 PM | Permalink

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Comments

You can lie to people for so long...then they will just ignore you when you speak! The Former United States of American has reached that point as far as the rest of the world is concerned!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 22, 2012 3:00:05 PM


DAB
… I conclude that there is a real risk that if returned … .

DJB Columbus OH 43209
I would have used DANGEROUS in place of real

Posted by: M. Blank | Jul 22, 2012 3:42:33 PM

Of course it is. Civil commitment is a fancy way of back-dooring de facto lwop sentences for people that have finished serving their judicially-imposed sentences. Furthermore, these programs are a lot like roach motels in that you never really "complete" treatment, and so you're never really released. Had the courts an ounce of intellectual honesty when it comes to sex offenders, this practice would have been shut down long ago. Want LWOP for all sex offenders? There's a mechanism for that, and it's not dressing up indefinite incarceration under the guise of civil commitment.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 22, 2012 8:33:07 PM

And again, is there any explanation for why civil commitment is not already being widely used to commit all kinds of career criminals?

Don't the terrorists who support the witch hunt realize that they could at least fake some level of credibility if they applied all their immoral, anti-factual, un-American laws to a lot more people? But I guess if they can keep getting away with their crimes, why worry about credibility?

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 23, 2012 11:53:37 AM

o "Sullivan is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and

o sexually molesting two 11-year-old girls in the 1990s in Minnesota."

o "A dual U.S.-Irish citizen, he escaped to Ireland as prosecutors were preparing to file charges, and WHILE THERE was CONvicted of
o sexual assaulting two 12-year-old girls."

o "Shawn Sullivan has been a wanted man since 1994…[and] lives in the affluent London suburb of Barnes with his Ministry of Justice worker wife…"
---->----
I am going to go out on a limb and categorize those who support Rapist Sullivan's refusal to stand trial as
malevolent and anti-social, for a start.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 25, 2012 1:17:34 PM

"I am going to go out on a limb and categorize those who support Rapist Sullivan's refusal to stand trial as malevolent and anti-social, for a start."

My poor wittle feelings!

So, the British High Court would be malevolent and anti-social, then? Or maybe your ire would be most appropriately directed at the reasons why the British Court refused to extradite him, the severity of his charges notwithstanding?

Oh those pesky human rights....

Posted by: Guy | Jul 25, 2012 2:05:38 PM

Guy, I would hope that the U.S. would answer the British by saying that this repeat icky perv child rapist may not have to worry about civil commitment if he gets sentenced to a nice due process compliant LWOP sentence. in fact, as an icky perv serial rapist he deserves nothing less. thus, if it was up to me, we could say that Sullivan has nothing to worry about because civil commitment only effects icky pervs with a release date and as a serial rapist icky perv there is not going to be a release date for him

sorry, but I believe that it is simply not possible to reject extradiction based upon what might happen several years in the future - even though I do agree that civil commitment of icky pervs is largely a sham driven by a desire to incresae sentences after the fact. That is why icky pervs should be given sentences of several decades or LWOP at the start such that civil commitment issues never come up.

it seems more likely that the British are trying to stand up for someone who married into the British government than to stand for human rights. They definitely do not care about the rights of the little girls which sullivan raped.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jul 25, 2012 3:51:42 PM

Thank you, Erika.
----- ----- -----

:: the severity of his charges notwithstanding ::

Are those not always /withstanding/ when one's dogma is the comfort of criminality?

"the terrorists who support the witch hunt"
"immoral, anti-factual, un-American"
"keep getting away with their crimes"

The rapist is the hero in need of defence of rights and those who bring him to trial are the immoralists:

"the lie passed into history and became truth"--1984

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 25, 2012 4:23:45 PM

"If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia,
plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish
of that region and make my last stand for liberty amongst
a people who will never submit to British tyranny
whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger."

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 25, 2012 4:28:31 PM

@ Erika:

I lost count of how many times you managed to work "icky perv" into your response. I'm not sure, but I think it's a new record for you. It's also a bit hyperbolic and intellectual dishonest, don't you think, to assert that the british court doesn't really care about the rights of his victims? After all, to be, you know, technical about it, rights violations only occur when government action is involved, so it's kind of irrelevant.

But, at the end of the day, if we didn't have these civil commitment programs (which, to your credit, your recognize as shams) then we wouldn't be faced with the specter of foreign countries refusing to extradite people to the US on human rights issues.

@ Adamakis:

Are those not always /withstanding/ when one's dogma is the comfort of criminality?

What? I actually don't even know what that's supposed to mean.

The rapist is the hero in need of defence of rights and those who bring him to trial are the immoralists

Again, what? No one is saying he's a hero. He's a rapist. Did he rape these girls that he's accused of raping? Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. I guess we'll never know but for the fact that civil commitment programs are a violation of human rights, according to GB.

The point, my friend, you are missing it.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 26, 2012 12:46:22 AM

hmm so much to say on this one!

"Guy, I would hope that the U.S. would answer the British by saying that this repeat icky perv child rapist may not have to worry about civil commitment if he gets sentenced to a nice due process compliant LWOP sentence. in fact, as an icky perv serial rapist he deserves nothing less. thus, if it was up to me, we could say that Sullivan has nothing to worry about because civil commitment only effects icky pervs with a release date and as a serial rapist icky perv there is not going to be a release date for him"


i will give you this one erika! i agree i have no problem locking 3 time losers up and losing the key!

as for this!


"sorry, but I believe that it is simply not possible to reject extradiction based upon what might happen several years in the future - even though I do agree that civil commitment of icky pervs is largely a sham driven by a desire to incresae sentences after the fact."

first MOST real countries reserve the option to NOT extridite thier own citizens. As for the other part. becasue of the continual restrictions on appeals it's just NOT possible to wait. You have to do it now or when you do realize you have been shafted down the road....sure enough some smart ass'd judge is goona announce "case dismissed--time bared!"


as for this!

"That is why icky pervs should be given sentences of several decades or LWOP at the start such that civil commitment issues never come up."

works for me as long as it's done LEGALLY you know...pass a law THEN apply it to cimes that come AFTER that date! Not the illegal after the fact shit we have now in sex crimes!

i will also give you this one!


"it seems more likely that the British are trying to stand up for someone who married into the British government than to stand for human rights."

as for this!

"They definitely do not care about the rights of the little girls which sullivan raped."

these days MOST govt's don't either! the big question is WHY are you suprised!

What most govt's care about is HOW much money from the taxpayers can they STEAL!

AND most important

WHAT do i need to do to get RE-ELECTED!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 26, 2012 12:51:06 AM

Adamakis (Jul 25, 2012 4:23:45 PM):

Who Sullivan is or what he may or may not have done is irrelevant to me. What I said about the Registry Terrorists and criminal governments has nothing to do with him. If he's a "hero", that's what you said.

The fact is, the Registry Terrorists and criminal governments have fully shown their hand for years and exposed themselves for the immoral scum that they are. They completely lost credibility and I can't imagine they will regain it. So it doesn't matter what they think or are trying to do, I will always be against them. This is a civil war after all. As long as the Registries exist, I will do anything I can to ensure that they are more worthless and counterproductive than they naturally are and I will retaliate by any legal means possible. That's it. If they can't leave me alone, I'm going to reduce the quality of their lives.

Of course, you didn't bother to address why we are not civilly committing all kinds of people throughout the U.S. Or even better, where are the rest of the Registries and their adjunct stupidity?

People who are listed on the nanny big government Registries: It's not acceptable. Don't put up with it.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 26, 2012 8:42:57 AM

Guy --

What if GB determined that a prison sentence exceeding fifteen years for this guy was also a violation of "human rights?" Would it have the same right to refuse extradition?

If GB wants an amicable relationship with the USA, it seems to me that it should defer to our government's view of "human rights," even if GB disagrees with it. I would not say that with respect to the government of, for example, Iran, which is a rogue state governed, sort of, by the humane insights of Sharia law, which still does stuff like chopping off hands, etc.

No serious person thinks US law is like that (non-serious people do, but I'm not concerned with them). The US and GB have the same legal heritage and are both liberal democracies, so I would think comity and deference should tell the tale where, as here, there are only one or two differences about proper legal remedies.

If we are not afforded such deference, it seems to me that the answer is for the US simply to refuse extradition and other similar forms of cooperation to GB until we get it. It's not a one-way street.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 28, 2012 10:12:19 AM

oh i don't know about that bill! Most country won't ship off thier own citizens and he is one of theirs with his duel citizenship!

plus this is hardly the first time a country told the U.S. to take a hike.

look at that mess between us and switzerland...wait TWO messes!

the polaski mess and the one before that. forget the name but was some rich banker type who fled to swizerland. us convicted him anyway. Then told the swiss if they would extridite him they would do a new trial...of course the courts said ...ONCE he was BACK HERE. TOUGH SHIT under our law ..NO new trial!

so they LIED to them and they are pissed.

last i heard he'd been appointed a diplomat to argure the swiss side and some rich friend is putting of millions to move info back and forth to help black the U.S'S eye!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 28, 2012 6:16:14 PM

Rodsmith,

He has citizenship with Ireland, not the UK.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 30, 2012 10:34:00 AM

i'm not sure about that. the article does not say WHAT part of ireland he is from. Just ireland. but northern ireland is still part of the UK.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 30, 2012 11:21:04 AM

I agree with Guy... I think if they did how they did in the old days all this would come to a end. In some culturs and countrys people die from this

Posted by: dill | Aug 13, 2012 11:33:14 PM

The fact is, the Registry Terrorists and criminal governments have fully shown their hand for years and exposed themselves for the immoral scum that they are. They completely lost credibility and I can't imagine they will regain it. So it doesn't matter what they think or are trying to do, I will always be against them. This is a civil war after all. As long as the Registries exist, I will do anything I can to ensure that they are more worthless and counterproductive than they naturally are and I will retaliate by any legal means possible. That's it. If they can't leave me alone, I'm going to reduce the quality of their lives. london apartments for rent

Posted by: student accommodation london | Nov 12, 2012 6:58:14 AM

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