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Department of Justice Will Try Birkett Under State's Sexually Violent Person Statute
MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Dane County Circuit Court Judge Michael N. Nowakowski has found probable cause to commit James Birkett to treatment under the state's sexual predator law. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the state's petition to commit Birkett to treatment on April 10, 2009.
Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons. Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence. A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.
According to the DOJ petition, James Birkett was convicted of Attempted Second Degree Sexual Assault in Dane County in 1991 and was sentenced to 11 years in the Wisconsin State Prison System. Birkett was scheduled for release from the Department of Corrections on April 14, 2009, but will be detained at a Department of Health Services facility awaiting trial.
The state's petition alleges that Birkett suffers from mental conditions that predispose him to engage in acts of sexual violence. The petition also alleges that Birkett is dangerous as his mental disorders make it likely that he will engage in future acts of sexual violence. A petition is only an allegation and a finding of probable cause only allows the state's case to move forward. Birkett is legally presumed not to be a sexually violent person unless and until the state proves him to be a sexually violent person at a trial.
Assistant Attorney General David Wambach represent the state in this case.