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Timothy Joseph Seeboth v. Stephen Mayberg

July 2, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Timothy J Bommer United States Magistrate Judge



Petitioner, Timothy Joseph Seeboth, is under an order of civil commitment and is proceeding with a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner raises the following claims in this federal habeas petition: (1) "Petitioner was deprived of his substantive due process rights by not being brought to trial in a meaningful and timely manner which is a constitutional violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution" (Pet'r's Pet. at p. 4.) ("Claim I"); and (2) "Petitioner was deprived of his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution in having a delineated time frame in which trial must take place" (Id. at p. 6.) ("Claim II"). For the following reasons, the habeas petition should be denied. //


[Petitioner's] prior criminal history involving deviant sexual acts with children . . . extends back to 1965. It includes 20 criminal charges and 9 prior convictions. Defendant admits to having victimized 16 children.

In 1965, defendant was placed in the DeWitt State hospital at the age of 20. His mother sent him there after discovering pornographic materials and discovering defendant was having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old boy.

Also in 1967, Defendant pled guilty to a charge of lewd conduct under Penal Code section 647, subdivision (a), arising out of sexual contact with an eight-year-old girl, a nine-year-old boy, and a ten-year-old girl. Defendant took nude photographs of the eight-year-old girl and unsuccessfully attempted to entice the ten-year-old to allow him to take her picture nude. While wrestling with the nine-year-old boy, defendant took off the boy's clothes, threw them in the corner and took the boy's picture as he tried to get his clothes.

In 1973, defendant molested four more children - three boys - ages six, four, three, and one girl - under two years old - by taking nude pictures of them, touching them and engaging in oral copulation. He was convicted of child molestation and sentenced to prison in Arizona for two to ten years. Defendant was paroled in 1977.

In 1980, defendant attempted to sell films of child pornography to an undercover officer and was convicted of sale of obscene materials (Pen. Code, § 311.2, subd. (a).)

In 1983, defendant pleaded guilty to five counts of having engaged in lewd or lascivious conduct with children under the age of 14 in violation of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a). Four of the counts involved conduct with a seven-year-old girl, including bathing her, inserting things into her vagina and anus, oral copulation, and requiring her to masturbate him. In the twelfth count, the victim was a five-year-old boy. This count alleged that defendant masturbated the boy by rubbing lotion on his penis. Defendant was sentenced to 21 years in prison for these crimes. After his release in 1994, defendant violated his parole in August 1995 by possessing child pornography.

People v. Seeboth, No. C037185, 2002 WL 31888038, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist. Dec. 30, 2002) (hereinafter Seeboth I).

In September 1997, a jury found Petitioner to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predatory's Act, CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE §§ 6600 et seq.

This first commitment was set to expire on September 9, 1999. Prior to the expiration of this first commitment, the government filed a new petition to extend Petitioner's commitment. Ultimately, Petitioner was recommitted for two more years or until September 2001.

In August 2001, a petition was filed to extend [Petitioner's] commitment as a sexually violent predator (SVP) from September 2001 to September 2003. In March 2003, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the petition, and a mistrial was declared. In July 2003, a petition was filed to extend the commitment from September 2003 to September 2005. The People's motion to consolidate the two petitions was granted. In April 2005, a jury found to be true the allegation that, by reason of a diagnosed mental disorder, defendant is an SVP within the meaning of Welfare and Institutions Code 6600, subdivision (a). Based on the jury finding, [Petitioner's] commitment to the Department of Mental Health was extended to September 2005.

People v. Seeboth, No. C049683, 2007 WL 678724, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist. Mar. 7, 2007) (hereinafter Seeboth II).

In May 2005, the government filed an amended petition to extend Petitioner's commitment as an SVP. (See Resp't's Lodged Doc. 5.) In February 2006, the California Superior Court determined that there was probable cause to believe that Petitioner was likely to engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior upon his release and ordered Petitioner to remain in custody. (See Resp't's Lodged Doc. 6.)

As explained infra, in 2006, the SVPA was amended changing commitment terms for SVP's from two-year periods to an indefinite period. See People v. McKee, 47 Cal. 4th 1172, 1186-87, 104 Cal. Rptr. 3d 427, 223 P.3d 566 (2010) (explaining the change in the SVPA due to the 2006 amendment). Petitioner ultimately received a trial on the 2005 petition in 2010 whereby the jury found him to be an SVP and the trial court ordered Petitioner committed for an indefinite term. (See Resp't's Lodged Doc. 15.)

In November 2008, Petitioner filed a state habeas petition in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Petitioner asserted that his equal protection and due process rights were violated due to the delay in not bringing him to trial on the amended petition to extend Petitioner's commitment that was filed by the government in 2005. The Superior Court denied the state habeas petition January 9, 2009 and stated the following:

Petitioner is currently housed at Coalinga State Hospital on an Sexually Violent Predator ("SVP") commitment. He is apparently awaiting trial on a petition for the period of September 10, 2005 to September 9, 2007. Petitioner complains that his equal protection rights have been violated because he is not afforded the right to a timely trial in the same manner as other persons under long-term civil commitment. In addition, he claims that his due process right to a timely trial has been denied.

I. Equal Protection Claim

A petitioner seeking relief by way of habeas corpus has the burden of stating a prima facie case. (In re Bower (1985) 38 Cal.3d 865, 872.) A petition for writ of habeas corpus should attach as exhibits all reasonably available documentary evidence or affidavits supporting the claim. (People v. Duvall (1995) 9 Cal.4th 464, 474.).) Different rules for similarly situated persons may violate equal protection. (See In re Bender (1983) 149 Cal.App.3d 380, 386). The first requirement for an equal protection claim is "a showing that 'the state has adopted a classification that affects two or more similarly situated groups in an unequal manner.'" (People v. Hubbart (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 1202, 1217; citations omitted.) Petitioner claims that he has been denied equal protection of the laws in other persons under long-term civil commitment have a right to a statutorily delineated time for trial, whereas persons committed under the SVP Act are not. However, Petitioner has not shown that he is similarly situated to the other types of long-term civil ...

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