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Name: Seeboth v. Allenby
Case #: 12-17062
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/18/2015

It was not objectively unreasonable for California courts to hold that the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) does not violate equal protection principles with respect to the timing of recommitment trials. Seeboth, a convicted sex offender who is serving an indefinite civil commitment under the SVPA, filed a state habeas petition arguing that the SVPA is unconstitutional on its face because it does not provide a time within which to hold a trial extending the term of his commitment. He claimed the statute denied him equal protection of the laws because other civilly committed persons (MDOs and NGIs) have a statutory right to a recommitment trial within a specified period. The state superior court denied the petition on the merits. The Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court denied Seeboth’s subsequent state habeas petitions without opinion. He next filed a habeas petition in the federal district court, which was denied. Seeboth appealed. Held: Affirmed. Applying the AEDPA standard of review, the Ninth Circuit concluded that it was not objectively unreasonable for the California state courts to hold that the lack of a timing provision in the SVPA does not deprive SVPs of equal protection of the laws. The state courts could reasonably have used the rational basis standard and Seeboth did not carry his burden of proving that it was objectively unreasonable for the courts to conclude that there was a rational relationship between the differential treatment and a legitimate governmental purpose. The state clearly has a compelling interest in preventing violent crime, and a state rationally may decide that sexually violent crime is qualitatively more dangerous than other kinds of violent crime.