Thomas v. Commonwealth, No. 180015 (Va. 2019)
Nature of Case: Respondents had both been convicted of sexual offenses and adjudicated as SVPs under Virginia law and were thus indefinitely committed to state custody. Following their initial commitment, they were conditionally released from that commitment subject to parole-like requirements. Both respondents violated these conditions, and the state sought to re-commit them.
Respondents argued in trial court that the Due Process clause required that the state appoint experts on their behalf, and the trial court denied these requests. Respondents appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Holding: The Virginia Supreme Court held that the respondents were not entitled to appointment of expert witnesses. As people who had been previously criminally convicted and adjudicated as SVPs, their liberty interests were diminished and–when considered alongside other procedural protections afforded to them–that Due Process did not require the appointment of experts on their behalf.