[Hpn] Public defender challenges violent sexual predator law

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Tue, 29 Jan 2008 04:11:32 -0500


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Public defender challenges violent sexual predator law
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff=20


http://www.theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=3DPublic+defender+cha=
llenges+violent+sexual+predator+law&articleId=3D89f92b5a-557a-409d-ad32-f=
67a8e39f019=20



MANCHESTER - The state law that allows prosecutors to seek civil =
commitments of sexually violent predators is unconstitutional, and =
petitions pending against two convicted sexual offenders should be =
dismissed, defense attorneys argued yesterday.

"The New Hampshire Legislature has produced one of the most oppressive =
laws of these types in the United States because of procedural =
protections that are absent that were present in almost every other =
state," New Hampshire public defender Mark A. Larsen told Hillsborough =
County Superior Court Judge Gillian L. Abramson.

But a county prosecutor disputed this claim, saying the state's Sexually =
Violent Predators Act is far from the harshest in the country and =
complies with the narrow set of conditions that enable the state to =
segregate individuals deemed dangerous to themselves and society.=20

"The state does have a compelling interest in protecting the public," =
Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael G. Valentine maintained.

Larsen asked the judge to dismiss petitions Hillsborough County Attorney =
Marguerite L. Wageling filed last June against Thomas Hurley and William =
Ploof, both 48. The petitions seek to have each man civilly committed =
for up to five years in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit for =
treatment under the state's Sexually Violent Predators Act. The judge =
made no decision yesterday.

The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2007, targets a small, but =
dangerous, group of violent sexual offenders suspected of having a =
mental abnormality of personality disorder that makes them likely to =
reoffend if not confined to a secure treatment unit. Trials to determine =
whether Hurley and Ploof are sexually violent predators are set to begin =
in April. Hurley is scheduled to stand trial first.

Public defenders claimed the law violates state and federal =
constitutional due process and equal protection rights along with rights =
to be free of retrospective laws and from twice being placed in jeopardy =
for the same conduct.

Larsen said the law is "oppressive and penal" and intrudes on a =
fundamental right of liberty by keeping former convicts in custody after =
their release dates until a civil court determines whether they should =
be committed for up to five-year terms.=20

"The private interests involved here are obviously very high. You're =
talking about the liberty of Thomas Hurley and Bill Ploof and others =
that are going to come after them," Larsen said.

County prosecutor Valentine argued against striking down the law on its =
face. Any difficulties encountered in implementing it should be worked =
out on a "case-by-case basis," he said.

Both Hurley and Ploof, who completed their maximum prison sentences last =
summer, have been held in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit =
after a team of mental health experts and others found each man met the =
criteria for pedophilia, was likely to reoffend and determined that both =
men are sexually violent predators.


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challenges violent sexual predator law</H1>
<P>By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI<BR>New Hampshire Union Leader Staff&nbsp;</P>
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<DIV>
<P><SPAN class=3Ddateline>MANCHESTER =96 </SPAN>The state law that =
allows=20
prosecutors to seek civil commitments of sexually violent predators is=20
unconstitutional, and petitions pending against two convicted sexual =
offenders=20
should be dismissed, defense attorneys argued yesterday.</P>
<P>"The New Hampshire Legislature has produced one of the most =
oppressive laws=20
of these types in the United States because of procedural protections =
that are=20
absent that were present in almost every other state," New Hampshire =
public=20
defender Mark A. Larsen told Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge =
Gillian L.=20
Abramson.</P>
<P>But a county prosecutor disputed this claim, saying the state's =
Sexually=20
Violent Predators Act is far from the harshest in the country and =
complies with=20
the narrow set of conditions that enable the state to segregate =
individuals=20
deemed dangerous to themselves and society. </P>
<P>"The state does have a compelling interest in protecting the public," =

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael G. Valentine =
maintained.</P>
<P>Larsen asked the judge to dismiss petitions Hillsborough County =
Attorney=20
Marguerite L. Wageling filed last June against Thomas Hurley and William =
Ploof,=20
both 48. The petitions seek to have each man civilly committed for up to =
five=20
years in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit for treatment under =
the=20
state's Sexually Violent Predators Act. The judge made no decision=20
yesterday.</P>
<P>The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2007, targets a small, but =
dangerous,=20
group of violent sexual offenders suspected of having a mental =
abnormality of=20
personality disorder that makes them likely to reoffend if not confined =
to a=20
secure treatment unit. Trials to determine whether Hurley and Ploof are =
sexually=20
violent predators are set to begin in April. Hurley is scheduled to =
stand trial=20
first.</P>
<P>Public defenders claimed the law violates state and federal =
constitutional=20
due process and equal protection rights along with rights to be free of=20
retrospective laws and from twice being placed in jeopardy for the same=20
conduct.</P>
<P>Larsen said the law is "oppressive and penal" and intrudes on a =
fundamental=20
right of liberty by keeping former convicts in custody after their =
release dates=20
until a civil court determines whether they should be committed for up =
to=20
five-year terms. </P>
<P>"The private interests involved here are obviously very high. You're =
talking=20
about the liberty of Thomas Hurley and Bill Ploof and others that are =
going to=20
come after them," Larsen said.</P>
<P>County prosecutor Valentine argued against striking down the law on =
its face.=20
Any difficulties encountered in implementing it should be worked out on =
a=20
"case-by-case basis," he said.</P>
<P>Both Hurley and Ploof, who completed their maximum prison sentences =
last=20
summer, have been held in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit =
after a=20
team of mental health experts and others found each man met the criteria =
for=20
pedophilia, was likely to reoffend and determined that both men are =
sexually=20
violent predators.</P></DIV></DIV>
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