In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of W.W., No. 083890 (N.J. 2021)
Nature of Case: Appellant had been convicted of a sex offenses, incarcerated, and thereafter was indefinitely detained as an SVP under New Jersey law. Subsequent to his initial commitment, Appellant had a hearing to determine the need for his continued commitment. State law provided that the state was required to produce psychiatric testimony in support of continued commitment. At the hearing, the state produced testimony of a psychologist who supported continued commitment, and a psychiatrist who did not. The trial court ruled that continued commitment was warranted, and the intermediate appellate court affirmed. Appellant sought review from the state supreme court.
Holding: New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding that by statute the state was required to produce psychiatric testimony supporting commitment in order to commit an individual. Because they did not do so here, they failed to meet their burden of proof.