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McReynolds v. State

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

December 19, 2019

JESSE McREYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON; WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES; SPECIAL COMMITMENT CENTER AT McNEIL ISLAND; KATHLEEN LONGWELL; CONRADA VILLA-McGRATH; BRUCE DUTHIE; DAN FESSLER; BRUCE SHAMULKA; JAMES BUDER; KIMBERLY ACKER; HENRY RICHARDS; BRENNA NELSON, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS DEFENDANT KATHLEEN LONGWELL, PH.D.

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss Defendant Kathleen Longwell, Ph.D. Dkt. 17. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the file herein.

         Originally filed in Pierce County, Washington, Superior Court, this case arises from the alleged improper detention of Plaintiff Jesse McReynolds as Sexually Violent Predator (“SVP”) at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island Washington for nine years. Dkt. 1-2.

         Defendant Dr. Kathleen Longwell now moves for dismissal of the claims against her. Dkt. 17. For the reasons provided below, her motion (Dkt. 17) should be granted.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. BACKGROUND FACTS

         As is relevant to the pending motion, the Complaint asserts that Plaintiff McReynolds was arrested for attempted second-degree kidnapping of an 11-year old girl on March 23, 2007. Dkt. 1-2, at 4. He asserts that he did not commit the crime but, “wanted to move forward with his life, ” so on March 11, 2008, he entered a plea of guilt pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970) and received a 17-month sentence. Dkt. 1-2, at 5.

         B. CIVIL COMMITMENT OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS IN WASHINGTON AND ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT RELATING TO PLAINTIFF'S CIVIL COMMITMENT

         In 1990, the Washington “legislature created an involuntary civil commitment scheme for individuals deemed sexually violent predators.” In re Det. of Lewis, 163 Wn.2d 188, 192 (2008).

         Under Washington law, a “sexually violent predator” is “any person who has been convicted of or charged with a crime of sexual violence and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.” RCW § 71.09.020(18).

         1. Department of Corrections makes a Referral to Prosecutors or the Attorney General; Referral includes Records; Records, in part, Created Here by Dr. Longwell

         Washington law provides that when it appears to agencies, like the Department of Corrections here, that a person may meet the criteria of a sexually violent predator, that agency “shall refer the person in writing” to the prosecuting attorney and attorney general. RCW § 71.09.025(1)(a). When making the referral, the Department of Corrections is required to provide the prosecutor or attorney general with relevant information including: institutional records, “records relating to the psychological or psychiatric evaluation and/or treatment of the person, ” records relating to prior arrests and convictions, and a “current mental health evaluation or mental health records review.” RCW § 71.09.025(1)(b). The statute further provides that, “the agency, its employees and officials shall be immune from liability for any good-faith conduct under this section.” RCW § 71.09.025(2).

         The moving party here, Dr. Longwell, is alleged to have conducted the “mental health records review” under RCW § 71.09.025(1)(b) on August 4, 2008, which the Department of Corrections gave to the prosecutors regarding the possibility that the Plaintiff was a sexually violent predator. Dkt. 1-2. The Complaint alleges that on August 4, 2008, Dr. Longwell “who was not licensed[, ] conducted an evaluation of [Plaintiff] McReynolds at the request of the DOC, an entity of defendant State of Washington, and Defendant Villa-McGrath.” Dkt. 1-2, at 5. The Complaint asserts that “Dr. Longwell did not perform any tests on McReynolds, but based on records review of his past convictions, Longwell stated with certainty that McReynolds suffers from pedophilia.” Id. The Complaint maintains that Dr. Longwell's “unqualified SVP evaluation[, ] made without scientific methods[, ] detained Plaintiff at [the Special Commitment Center] for nine years.” Dkt. 1-2, at 8. It alleges that Dr. Longwell “was unlicensed and conducted a psychological evaluation without ever speaking to Plaintiff. She also classified Plaintiff as having pedophilia without using or meeting the standard of care for making such a diagnosis.” Id. Dr. Longwell is not alleged to have had a further role in Plaintiff's commitment.

         2. After Referral, Prosecutors may Petition Court for Civil Commitment; Petition Triggers Probable Cause Determination; if there is Probable Cause, Full Trial is Held

         Under Washington's statutory scheme, after receiving a referral from the Department of Corrections, as is alleged to have occurred here, under RCW § 71.09.030, “prosecutors may petition for indefinite civil commitment when a convicted sex offender is about to be released from confinement, among other circumstances.” State v. McCuistion, 174 Wn.2d 369, 379 (2012)(citing RCW 71.09.030). The filing of such a petition triggers a probable cause determination by a judge. RCW 71.09.040(1). If the judge determines that probable cause “exists to believe that the person named in the petition is a sexually violent predator, ” then the person is “transferred to the custody of the Department of Social and Health Services for placement in a total confinement facility.” RCW 71.09.040(1)-(4). The probable cause determination is “followed by a full evidentiary trial, at which the individual enjoys a panoply of procedural protections, and the fact finder must determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether the individual meets the definition of a [sexually violent predator].” Id. (citing RCW 71.09.050-.060).

         The Complaint alleges that while he was due to be released from custody on August 20, 2008, on August 19, 2008, “the State filed a Petition for Civil Commitment based on the arrest of McReynolds in 2007.” Dkt. 1-2, at 5. It asserts that after some delays in getting him assigned counsel for a probable cause hearing, “[i]n September 2008, McReynolds accepted Bruce Shamulka as his public defender in his probable cause hearing.” Id., at 6. The Complaint maintains that Plaintiff was held at the Special Commitment Center for nine years without a civil commitment trial. Id. It alleges that between September 2014 and March 2015, experts conducted tests, “all of which concluded that there was no indication of clinically significant sexual arousals toward children.” Id. It asserts that in “February of 2017, a psychiatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Abbott stated that McReynolds had not demonstrated institutional signs of pedophilic interest since his 2008 incarceration. Due to this psychological assessment and the medical records from October 17, 2006 that document[ed] his alibi, it was concluded that McReynolds no longer posed a threat.” Id., at 6-7.

         The Complaint maintains that “on June 26, 2017, the court granted McReynolds' motion for summary judgment . . . due to lack of evidence and the inability of the psychiatrist to testify that he was a danger to the community.” Id. It states that he was released that same day, June 26, 2017. Id. He alleges that he has suffered “ongoing emotional distress.” Id.

         C. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case was removed on July 31, 2019 based on the federal questions raised in this case. Dkt. 1. The removing Defendants were the State of Washington; Washington State Department of Social and Health Services; Special Commitment Center at McNeil Island; and James Buder; they were the only Defendants alleged to have been served at the time of ...


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