Published on: Saturday, May 6, 2023

North Carolina man is involuntarily committed after threatening to kill a U.S. congressman. Years later, he's conditionally discharged, and though he breaks lots of rules at his halfway house, it's not obvious the violations mean he's especially likely to be dangerous to the public. Recommit him? Fourth Circuit: "While there have been profound developments in the science of risk assessment in the past three decades, they are unmatched by updated, corresponding legal guidance respecting how the inquiry ought to proceed for those under a federal civil commitment order. We thus write at some length." And they did. For 112 pages. Dissent: this ruling "offers a detailed framework that congress did not prescribe and ventures well beyond the record.”

The case is United States v. Perkins, No. 20-7024 (4th Cir. May 4, 2023).