This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C3-01-2274

 

 

In re: Michael Richard Habshi.

 

 

Filed June 25, 2002

Affirmed

Anderson, Judge

 

Aitkin County District Court

File No.  P501352

 

 

Mark S. Stolpman, Stolpman Law Office, P.O. Box 131, Fergus Falls, MN  56538 (for appellant Habshi)

 

Bradley C. Rhodes, Aitkin County Attorney, 209 Second Street N.W., Aitkin, MN  56431 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

 

G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge.

 

            Appellant Michael Richard Habshi challenges an order for continued commitment, arguing that the district court had insufficient evidence to support its findings because appellant’s treatment report was not in evidence and constituted hearsay.  We affirm.

 

FACTS

 

The district court initially committed appellant to the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center (Center) on June 14, 2001, as mentally ill and chemically dependent.  The commitment was for an initial period not to exceed six months. 

On November 16, 2001, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 1(b) (2000), the Center filed a treatment report with the committing court and sent copies to the county attorney, appellant, and appellant’s attorney.  The report diagnosed appellant with ongoing substance-abuse and mental-health problems and recommended continued commitment in a halfway house.  At the continued-commitment hearing, appellant’s attorney stated that he had not received a copy of the report.  The district court announced that the report was then in the court file but continued the hearing in order to allow appellant’s attorney time to obtain and review the report. 

At the rescheduled hearing, a social worker who worked with appellant testified that she was familiar with appellant’s case file and aware of the treatment report.  The social worker stated that she was unaware of any less-restrictive placement alternative for appellant.  The district court ordered appellant’s commitment continued for a period up to one year.  This appeal followed.

D E C I S I O N

 

The district court may continue an involuntary commitment when it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) the person continues to be mentally ill; (2) involuntary commitment is necessary for the protection of the patient or others; and (3) there is no alternative to involuntary commitment.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4 (2000).  If the district court orders continued commitment, its findings and conclusions must include a description of the conduct that is the basis for its determination that the statutory criteria of commitment continue to be met and indicate that less restrictive alternatives have been considered and rejected.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 7 (2000).

On appeal, our review is limited to an examination of the district court’s compliance with the statute, and the commitment must be justified by findings based upon evidence at the hearing.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 2 (2000); In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995).  “Where the findings of fact rest almost entirely on expert testimony, the trial court’s evaluation of credibility is of particular significance.”  In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d at 620 (citation omitted).  We review de novo whether there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support the district court’s conclusion that appellant meets the standards for commitment.  In re Linehan, 518 N.W.2d 609, 613 (Minn. 1994).

A treatment facility must file a treatment report prior to termination of the initial commitment order, which in this case was not to exceed six months.  Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd.(1) (c); see also In re Brown, 640 N.W.2d 919, 925 (Minn. 2002).  Appellant argues that the district court could not properly consider the six-month report in making its determination because (1) the report was not formally offered or received into and (2) the report was inadmissible hearsay.  Without the report, appellant argues, the district court lacked sufficient evidence on which to base its order for continued commitment. 

            Appellant is correct that the report was never formally offered into evidence.  But it is undisputed that the report was timely prepared in compliance with the statute and filed directly with the district court.  See In re Brown, 640 N.W.2d at 926.  While the better practice would be for the district court to formally make the report part of the record by explicit offer and admission, we do not believe that a report so filed, given the statutory requirement, must be independently offered and admitted into evidence to become part of the record, and we conclude that, here, the district court did not err by considering the report.  The statutory mandate and the district court’s statement that the report was in the court file were sufficient to make the report of record.  We also note that appellant did not object when the district court announced that the report was part of the record, and has therefore waived his right to object to the district court’s reliance on the report.  See State v. Voorhees, 596 N.W.2d 241, 254 (Minn. 1999) (issue waived when no objection raised at trial).

            Appellant also argues the six-month report is inadmissible hearsay.  “A presumption in favor of admissibility applies to all commitment cases.”  In re Morton, 386 N.W.2d 832, 835 (Minn. App. 1986) (in a commitment proceeding, affirming admission of report ordered by county health agency).  “The court may admit all relevant, reliable evidence, including but not limited to the respondent’s medical records, without requiring foundation witnesses.”  Minn. R. Civ. Commitment and Treatment 15.   

Reports compiled by an agency concerning observations made pursuant to law “as to which matters there was a duty to report” are not excluded by the hearsay rule “unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.” 

 

Morton, 386 N.W.2d at 835 (quoting Minn. R. Evid. 803(8)).  Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 1(c) required that the agency prepare appellant’s treatment report prior to the termination of appellant’s initial six-month commitment.  Appellant made no showing that the information in the report is untrustworthy.  The report is not inadmissible hearsay.

            Appellant offers no evidence in support of his final argument that the report contains inaccurate information, and chose not to ask any questions of the social worker called by the treatment center to testify about the report.  The district court’s findings that appellant continues to be mentally ill and chemically dependent are not clearly erroneous and meet the statutory requirements for continued commitment.

            Affirmed.