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In re Care and Treatment of Snow

Supreme Court of South Carolina

January 16, 2019

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Daryl T. Snow, Petitioner. Appellate Case No. 2017-001033

          Heard November 29, 2018

          Appeal from Georgetown County Steven H. John, Circuit Court Judge

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

          Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

          OPINION

          FEW JUSTICE

         Daryl Snow appeals his commitment as a sexually violent predator under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. He argues his diagnosis of Other Specified Personality Disorder is legally insufficient to meet the constitutional and statutory requirements for commitment under the Act, and thus the trial court erred when it denied his motions for a directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). The court of appeals affirmed his commitment in an unpublished opinion. In re Snow, Op. No. 2017-UP-009 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Jan. 11, 2017). We affirm the court of appeals.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         In 1996, Snow was convicted of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.[1] In 2006, Snow was convicted of lewd act upon a child[2] and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Prior to his release, the State filed a petition for civil commitment pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 44-48-10 to -170 (2018).

         The State's expert was Marie Gehle, Psy.D., the chief psychologist at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. At the time of trial, Dr. Gehle had conducted approximately ninety sexually violent predator commitment evaluations. Dr. Gehle evaluated Snow to determine whether he met the criteria for commitment under the Act. Her evaluation included a thorough review of his background, criminal history, and prison records. Dr. Gehle's specific diagnosis was "Other Specified Personality Disorder, current evidence of conduct disorder is insufficient." At trial, she explained "Other Specified Personality Disorder" (OSPD) is listed as a personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-5. The DSM-5 describes OSPD as follows,

This category applies to presentations in which symptoms characteristic of a personality disorder that cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning predominate but do not meet the full criteria for any of the disorders in the personality disorders diagnostic class. The other specified personality disorder category is used in situations in which the clinician chooses to communicate the specific reason that the presentation does not meet the criteria for any specific personality disorder. This is done by recording "other specified personality disorder" followed by the specific reason (e.g., "mixed personality features").

         American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 684 (5th ed. 2013).

         Snow made a motion for a directed verdict, which he renewed at the conclusion of all evidence. The jury found Snow was a sexually violent predator as defined by the Act. The trial court denied Snow's motion for JNOV. After the court of appeals affirmed, we granted Snow's petition for a writ of certiorari.

         II. ...


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