Unpublished But Still Interesting: The Courts Need the Treatment Records that Sex Offenders Would Shield from View
In an unpublished decision today, a panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that sex offenders who are enrolled in community-based treatment do not have a due process right to shield their treatment records from prosecutors that are eyeing a civil commitment petition for the offender.
Cary Leas asserted that he went into sex offender treatment, following his release from state prison, “understanding” that his disclosures in treatment were confidential. He claimed that his rights to due process were violated when these records were later disclosed to the Pennington County Attorney’s office. The County Attorney’s office reviewed, and used, the disclosures as part of its petition to civilly commit Leas as a sexual-psychopathic personality and a sexually dangerous person.
Affirming a lower court’s order of commitment, Judge Worke declared that the use of the treatment records was needed “in order to assure that persons are not improperly subjected to involuntary civil-commitment proceedings …. This purpose would be frustrated if the person subject to commitment was able to limit the county’s record-gathering efforts to include only those records that are neutral or that serve the person’s interest in avoiding commitment.”
The complete opinion is accessible here.