In re Commitment of Dodson (2010) – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In In re Commitment of Dodson, No. 09-09-00053-CV, 311 S.W.3d 194 (Tex. App.--Beaumont Apr. 22, 2010, no pet. hist.), the Court noted that a jury, when determining whether an individual suffers from a behavioral abnormality that predisposes him to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence, must resolve a multifaceted inquiry.

Specifically, we stated that "to qualify for SVP status, a person must not only have an acquired or congenital condition, but he must also be predisposed to committing a sexually violent offense to the extent that he becomes a menace to the health and safety of another person." Id. (citing TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 841.002(2)).

Because the question of whether a person is predisposed to committing a future act of sexual violence is one of the facts to be resolved by the jury in SVP cases, the Court held that opinions of persons possessing the requisite training and experience in providing treatment to persons with sexual abnormalities together with the required expertise to assess recidivism risks could provide opinions that assist the trier of fact. (citing TEX. R. EVID. 702).

Because Dr. Shursen possessed special skills in administering actuarial tests relevant to assessing an individual's risk of reoffending, the Court concluded that "Dr. Shursen possessed the necessary qualifications to provide an opinion related to her assessment of the risk that Dodson would commit a future act of sexual violence, a component part of the broad-form issue the jury evaluated and answered." Id.