Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed November 29, 2012



In re Detention of Stanbridge, 2012 IL 112337

Appellate citations:    Stanbridge, 408 Ill. App. 3d 553.

                                     Lieberman, 2011 IL App (1st) 090796.


      JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.


      This consolidated case involves appeals by two individuals, Kevin Stanbridge and Brad Lieberman, who have been committed to the Department of Human Services under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (725 ILCS 207/1 et seq.). The Act establishes a framework under which persons who have been convicted of certain sex offenses may be subjected to further civil detention after service of their criminal sentences. Kevin Stanbridge served time on an aggravated criminal sex abuse conviction concerning a 1999 offense in Adams County, and Brad Lieberman was convicted of multiple Cook County counts of rape in 1980. Later, the State was successful in having both of them subjected, subsequent to service of their sentences, to confinement under the Act. Both of them made attempts to be discharged or conditionally released, but their petitions were dismissed by the respective circuit courts. In Stanbridge’s case, the appellate court reversed, but as to Lieberman, the dismissal was affirmed.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court sought to clarify the quantum and scope of evidence required at such postcommitment hearings for discharge or release. In doing so, it relied on its earlier decision in In re Detention of Hardin, 238 Ill. 2d 33 (2010). There, a probable cause standard, rather than a reasonable doubt standard, was established. There must be a plausible account on each of the required elements of the petition to assure the court that there is a substantial basis for the petition by demonstrating a change in the circumstances that led to the initial commitment. The burden of proof in the proceedings is on the petitioner to bring forward sufficient evidence.

      The supreme court said that, in both of these postcommitment proceedings, the evidence offered did not, essentially, present anything new. In other words, there was no “plausible account” showing that the individual should no longer be civilly committed as sexually violent.

      The circuit court dismissals were upheld in each case. The appellate court’s reversal of the Stanbridge dismissal was reversed, but its affirmance of the Lieberman dismissal was upheld.