by Christopher Zoukis
The Supreme Court of Kansas has ruled that any filing fees associated with state habeas corpus actions brought by civilly committed sex offenders must be paid by the county where the individual was determined to be a sexually violent predator.
The case was initially brought by Dustin J. Merryfield and Richard A. Quillen, both "involuntary participants" in the Kansas sexual predator treatment program at Larned State Hospital. Merryfield and Quillen challenged a new administrative grievance procedure. They lost their case at the trial level without a hearing, and the district court taxed the filing fee of $178 against each of them.
The Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the assignment of costs to Merryfield and Quillen, and the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed.
The case came down to a question of statutory construction and, perhaps, common sense. The trial court used a generic statute that allowed for the imposition of costs against an unsuccessful habeas petitioner. However, Kansas has a statute which specifically governs habeas corpus petitions filed by civilly committed sex offenders. That statute clearly and specifically directs that filing fees in habeas actions filed by civilly committed persons are to be paid by the county where the person was determined to be a sexually violent predator.
The court held that the narrow scope of the statute rendered it the more specific statute, and therefore the statute that governed the situation. The order requiring Merryfield and Quillen to pay the filing fee was therefore reversed.
Case: Merryfield, et al. v. Sullivan, Kansas Supreme Court, Nos. 110,662 and 110,663 (February 27, 2015).
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Related legal case
Merryfield, et al. v. Sullivan
|Cite||Kansas Supreme Court, Nos. 110,662 and 110,663 (February 27, 2015)|