State v. Dyous
When a court analyzes a law under the equal protection clause via intermediate scrutiny, the state bears the burden of establishing that the challenged discriminatory means are substantially related to an important governmental interest. After hijacking a bus, Anthony Dyous was found not guilty by reason of insanity of various crimes and committed to the commissioner of mental health for 25 years. Before his commitment term expired, the state petitioned for an order of continued commitment. The defendant filed motions to dismiss the petition on equal protection and due process grounds. The court denied the defendant's motions and committed the defendant to the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for an additional three years. The defendant appealed claiming, principally, that C.G.S. §17a-593, which sets out the continued commitment procedure for insanity acquittees, both on its face and as applied, violated his federal constitutional right to equal protection. The Supreme Court rejected his claims and affirmed the judgment. The procedure for extending an insanity acquittee's term of commitment to the board imposes greater burdens on individual liberty than does the procedure applicable to civilly committed inmatesmentally ill, convicted defendants transferred under C.G.S. §17a-498 and §17a-515 to a psychiatric facility while serving their sentences and whom the state seeks to commit after their sentences end. The majority of the Supreme Court concluded that it need not decide whether intermediate scrutiny applied or whether insanity acquittees are similarly situated to civilly committed inmates as argued, because C.G.S. §17a-593 would withstand intermediate scrutiny. C.G.S. §17a-593 was found constitutionally applied to the defendant because subjecting him to a recommitment procedure that tilts more strongly in favor of commitment than does its civil counterpart, substantially related to the achievement of the important governmental interest of protecting society. It was common sense to conclude that someone whose mental illness was sufficient to lead him to commit a dangerous crime and whose mental illness demonstrably persisted despite years of intensive treatment, is someone whose prospective release raises a special concern for public safety. This justified the legislature's decision to subject such persons to a recommitment procedure that places additional emphasis on protecting society. Justice Zarella, with whom Justice McLachlan joined, concurred separately concluding that the groups were not similarly situated.