United States District Court, S.D. California
MATTHEW L. SMELTZER, Petitioner,
AUDREY KING, Respondent.
WILLIAM Q. HAYES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter before the Court is the review of the Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 17) issued by the United States
Magistrate Judge .
2010, the San Diego District Attorney's Office filed an
Amended Petition for Involuntary Treatment of a Sexually
Violent Predator under California Welfare and Institutions
Code § 6600 et seq. against Petitioner Matthew
L. Smeltzer. (ECF No. 15-1 at 20-23). A jury found beyond a
reasonable doubt that Smeltzer was a sexually violent
predator, and the trial court ordered that Smeltzer be
committed to the Department of Mental Health for an
indeterminate term. See ECF No. 15-1 at 133-136;
Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 6604. Smeltzer filed a
direct appeal of his commitment in the California Court of
Appeal in June 2012. (ECF No. 15-2 at 92). In August 2013,
the California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's
rulings in an unpublished opinion. (ECF No. 15-5).
2014, Smeltzer commenced this action by filing a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1). In June 2014, this Court
issued an Order construing the action as a Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No.
2). In May 2015, Smeltzer filed the First Amended Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus (the “Petition”). (ECF
No. 8). Respondent Audrey King filed an Answer in July 2015.
(ECF No. 15). In August 2015, Smeltzer filed a Traverse. (ECF
February 2016, the United States Magistrate Judge issued the
Report and Recommendation, recommending that this court deny
the Petition. (ECF No. 17). In June 2016, the Court issued an
Order appointing counsel to represent Smeltzer. (ECF No. 19).
In April 2017, Smeltzer filed an Objection to the Report and
Recommendation. (ECF No. 28). King filed a Reply in May 2017.
(ECF No. 30).
duties of the district court in connection with a report and
recommendation of a magistrate judge are set forth in Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
The district judge must “make a de novo determination
of those portions of the report . . . to which objection is
made, ” and “may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
Petition asserts the following five grounds for relief: (1)
the trial court violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to
due process when it prevented his counsel from asking expert
witnesses certain questions; (2) the instructions given to
his jury violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process; (3) his indeterminate commitment violates his
Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection; (4) his
indeterminate commitment violated his rights under the Due
Process Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, and the Cruel and
Unusual Punishments Clause; and (5) his indeterminate
commitment violates the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth
Amendment. The Court addresses each ground for relief below.
Ground One: The Expert Witness Testimony
California Welfare and Institutions Code § 6604 provides
that, if “the court or jury determines that [a] person
is a sexually violent predator, the person shall be committed
for an indeterminate term to the custody of the State
Department of State Hospitals for appropriate treatment and
confinement in a secure facility . . . .” A
“[s]exually violent predator” is “a person
who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense . . .
and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person
a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is
likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent
criminal behavior.” Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §
6600(a)(1). A “‘[d]iagnosed mental disorder'
includes a congenital or acquired condition affecting the
emotional or volitional capacity that predisposes the person
to the commission of criminal sexual acts in a degree
constituting the person a menace to the health and safety of
others.” Id. at § 6600(d).
Smeltzer's trial, the government called two expert
witnesses (Dr. Robert Owen and Dr. Eric Simon) and Smeltzer
called one (Dr. Alan Abrams). (ECF No. 17 at 11-12). All
three experts testified about the standard that they used to
determine whether Smeltzer has a “volitional
impairment, ” id. at 10-17, i.e. a
“condition affecting [his] . . . volitional capacity
that predisposes [him] to the commission of criminal sexual
acts in a degree constituting [him] a menace to the health
and safety of others, ” Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code
§ 6600(a)(1). However, the trial court did not permit
Smeltzer's counsel to ask certain specific questions
about People v. Burris, 126 Cal.Rptr.2d 113
(Cal.Ct.App. 2002). Id. Smeltzer contends that the
trial court violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process when it prevented his counsel from asking those
questions. (ECF No. 8 ...