IN RE PIMA COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH CAUSE NO. A20020026
Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County. No. A20020026. The Honorable Richard S. Fields, Judge.
For Appellant: Brick P. Storts, III, Barton & Storts, P.C., Tucson.
For Appellee: Jacob R. Lines, Deputy County Attorney, Tucson, Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney.
Judge Espinosa authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Miller and Chief Judge Eckerstrom concurred.
[¶1] In this appeal, we consider whether appellant John Sanchez was properly denied reinstatement of his conditional release pursuant to A.R.S. § 36-3713(C) following a revocation hearing. By way of background, in August 2003, a jury found Sanchez to be a sexually violent person as defined in A.R.S. § 36-3701(7) of Arizona's Sexually Violent Persons (SVP) Act, A.R.S. § § 36-3701 through 36-3717. Pursuant to the jury's verdict, the trial court ordered Sanchez committed to the custody of the Arizona Department of Health Services for placement at the Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center (ACPTC). This court affirmed the jury verdict and commitment order on appeal. In re Commitment of Sanchez, No. 2 CA-MH 2003-0014-SP (memorandum decision filed Apr. 6, 2005). In 2009, this court affirmed the trial court's denial of Sanchez's subsequent request for discharge. In re Detention of Sanchez, No. 2 CA-MH 2009-0003-SP (memorandum decision filed Oct. 8, 2009).
[¶2] Sanchez requested release to less-restrictive alternative conditions pursuant to § § 36-3710 and 36-3711, in 2012. The trial court noted that Sanchez's " response to sex offender treatment has been on a constant upward swing since approximately 2008" and that his doctors' reports " have illustrated a positive change over time." Citing § 36-3714(A), the court also noted that the state could " no longer meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that [Sanchez's] disorder has not changed and that he is likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if discharged." See also § 36-3709(A) (state must prove beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner's mental disorder has not changed and petitioner remains danger if released to less restrictive alternative). But, it determined that " immediate discharge would not be in the best interests of anyone, including Sanchez himself." The court therefore ordered conditional release to Tucson Counseling and Consulting Services, with specific conditions of release.
[¶3] In July 2014, the trial court revoked the conditional release after Sanchez had admitted having touched a young girl on her back and a polygraph examiner had reported indicia of dishonesty during Sanchez's testing. The court ordered Sanchez " returned to Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center." This court granted Sanchez's special action petition in part, vacating the court's decision because it had failed to " conduct a hearing in compliance with A.R.S. § 36-3713." Sanchez v. Fields, No. 2 CA-SA 2014-0047, ¶ 2 (decision order filed Aug. 8, 2014). In December 2014, after a multi-day hearing, the court again revoked Sanchez's conditional release and committed him to total confinement.
[¶4] " Because involuntary treatment proceedings may result in a serious deprivation of appellant's liberty interests," In re Maricopa County Superior Court No. MH 2001-001139, 203 Ariz. 351, ¶ 8, 54 P.3d 380, 382 (App. 2002), the applicable statutes must be strictly followed, In re Maricopa County Superior Court No. MH 2003-000058, 207 Ariz. 224, ¶ 12, 84 P.3d 489, 492 (App. 2004). We will uphold a trial court's findings of fact in this context unless they are " clearly erroneous or unsupported by any credible evidence." In re Appeal of Mental Health Case No. MH 94-00592, 182 Ariz. 440, 443, 897 P.2d 742, 745 (App. 1995).
[¶5] Pursuant to § 36-3713(C), a trial court is required, within five days of notice that the person previously conditionally released has been detained, to schedule a hearing. To order a return to total confinement, " [a]t the hearing, the court shall determine if ...