This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Civil
Donald C. Bostic
Hennepin County District Court
File Nos. 27-MH-PR-05-1110, 27-P3-02-060547,
Kurt M. Anderson, P.O. Box 2434, Minneapolis MN 55402 (for appellant Donald Bostic)
John L. Kirwin, Adult Services Section, A-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis MN 55487 (for respondent state)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Ross, Judge.
Appellant challenges his involuntary recommitment as a mentally ill person under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1 (2004), arguing that (1) recommitment requires proof of recent behavior indicating a risk of harm to oneself or others; (2) serial recommitments without proof of recent behavior demonstrating danger to oneself or others violate due process; and (3) the district court improperly rejected voluntary case management as a less-restrictive alternative. We affirm.
Appellant Donald Bostic has a lengthy history of treatment for mental illness and chemical dependency. Bostic, who was unemployed and homeless, sometimes sought shelter with his mother, who denied him entry into her home. Consequently, Bostic used the hallway of his mother’s apartment building for shelter and as a place to urinate and defecate. On one occasion, Bostic was found naked in his mother’s apartment building. Bostic’s mother subsequently filed the initial commitment petition after concluding that, because of his mental illness and drug abuse, Bostic was unable to care for himself. At the time, Bostic was 43 years old.
In October 2002, Bostic was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia and cocaine dependence. In October 2002, Bostic was in the Crisis Intervention Center of Hennepin County Medical Center. During his time in that unit, Bostic argued with another resident on two occasions. During one of those incidents, Bostic struck the other resident in the face.
With his consent, Bostic was civilly committed for a six-month period as mentally ill and chemically dependent on November 12, 2002. Because of Bostic’s habitual and excessive drug abuse and his mental illness, the district court found Bostic “incapable of self-management or management of his personal affairs.” The district court also found that Bostic’s conduct posed a substantial likelihood of physical harm because Bostic failed to obtain treatment for his mental illness and other medical conditions, including congestive heart failure and acute renal insufficiency.
On May 12, 2003, the district court held a review hearing under Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subds. 2a, 4 (2002). The district court found that, without involuntary commitment, Bostic likely would “fail to [obtain] necessary personal food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, based on his inability to refrain from chemical use and to remain treatment compliant, which are both necessary to prevent his serious cardiac condition from killing him.” Bostic’s commitment was continued for one year as mentally ill and chemically dependant under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd.1 (2002).
A petition for recommitment as mentally ill and chemically dependent was filed on April 21, 2004, by an associate administrator of Hennepin County Medical Center. After Bostic waived his right to a hearing or independent examination of his condition as provided by Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 6 (2002), the district court recommitted Bostic on May 5, 2004, under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1 (2002), until May 12, 2005. A second petition for recommitment as mentally ill and chemically dependent was filed on April 8, 2005, by a supervisor for the Hennepin County Mental Health Case Management Unit. Although a waiver is not included in the record, the district court’s order indicates that Bostic waived his appearance at a hearing on the petition for recommitment held on May 11, 2005. The district court recommitted Bostic as mentally ill and chemically dependent, under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1 (2004), until November 10, 2005.
In October 2005, the supervisor filed another petition for judicial recommitment. This petition sought Bostic’s recommitment as mentally ill, but not chemically dependent. Following a hearing on the petition, Bostic was recommitted as mentally ill until October 27, 2006. Bostic moved for amended findings of facts and conclusions of law, seeking a denial of the petition or clarification of the legal and factual basis of the decision. Specifically, Bostic sought a determination that recommitment under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13 requires proof that the subject of the petition satisfies the definition of a mentally ill or chemically dependent person, including proof of recent dangerous conduct as required by Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 2, 13 (2004). The district court denied the motion, concluding that a finding of recent dangerous behavior is not required for recommitment as mentally ill. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
contends that the district court erred by ordering his recommitment as a
mentally ill person under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13 (2004). As a general matter, our review of a civil commitment
is limited to whether the district court complied with the statute and whether
the commitment was “justified by findings based upon evidence” submitted at the
hearing. In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (
Involuntary civil commitment of a mentally ill person begins with an initial commitment of up to six months, Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 5 (2004), and may be followed by a single period of “continued” commitment of up to 12 months, Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1 (2004), and one or more “recommitments,” each of which may last no longer that 12 months, id. A commitment proceeding is initiated by petition, Minn. Stat. § 253B.07, subd. 2 (2004), followed by an initial commitment hearing, Minn. Stat. § 253B.08 (2004). “If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed patient is a person who is mentally ill . . . or chemically dependent . . ., the court shall commit the patient to the least restrictive treatment program or alternative programs which can meet the patient’s treatment needs . . . .” Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1 (2004). The district court must consider “reasonable alternative dispositions, including but not limited to, dismissal of [the] petition, voluntary outpatient care, voluntary admission to a treatment facility, appointment of a guardian or conservator, or release.” Id.
the initial-commitment period, commitment may be continued for up to 12 months if
the district court finds by “clear and convincing evidence that (1) the person
continues to be mentally ill . . . or chemically dependent;
(2) involuntary commitment is necessary for the protection of the patient or
others; and (3) there is no alternative to involuntary commitment.”
period of “continued” commitment can be followed by one or more recommitments.
At the conclusion of the prescribed period, commitment may not be continued unless a new petition is filed pursuant to section 253B.07 and hearing and determination made on it. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 253B.09, subdivision 5, the initial commitment period under the new petition shall be the probable length of commitment necessary or 12 months, whichever is less. The standard of proof at the hearing on the new petition shall be the standard specified in section 253B.12, subdivision 4.
It is within this statutory framework that Bostic challenges his recommitment. Bostic maintains that recommitment under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1, requires proof of recent behavior indicating a substantial risk of harm to himself or others, which was not established here.
argument poses an issue of statutory interpretation. The object of statutory interpretation is to
give effect to the intention of the legislature. Educ.
Minn.-Chisholm v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 695, 662 N.W.2d 139, 143 (
ascertaining legislative intent, we presume that “the legislature intends the entire
statute to be effective[.]” Minn. Stat.
§ 645.17(2) (2004); see also Amaral v.
St. Cloud Hosp., 598 N.W.2d 379, 384 (
argues that the recommitment statute requires findings of recent dangerous or
harmful behavior. But the plain language
of the statute belies Bostic’s contention.
The standard of proof for a recommitment
under section 253B.13 is set forth in section 253B.12, subdivision 4. Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1. Section 253B.12, subdivision 4, expressly
provides that the district court “need not find that there has been a recent
attempt or threat to physically harm self or others, or a recent failure to
provide necessary personal food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.”
Instead, the statute requires the district court to find that “(1) the person
continues to be mentally ill . . . or chemically dependent; (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. It
is sufficient to establish that “the patient continues to be mentally ill” with
proof that the patient is “likely to attempt to physically harm self or others,
or to fail to provide necessary personal food, clothing, shelter, or medical
care unless involuntary commitment is
We cannot endorse Bostic’s interpretation without ignoring statutory language that specifically rejects the need for recent findings of dangerous or harmful behavior. That the statute does not require evidence of recent threats to safety is consistent with the fact that, by virtue of a prior commitment, the subject of a recommitment petition usually has been living in a highly structured environment where his or her behavior has been monitored and controlled to protect against threats to safety of oneself or others. By its terms, the recommitment statute recognizes that a patient may be more harmful or dangerous to himself or others if he were removed from that controlled environment and, therefore, requires evidence supporting a finding that the patient is likely to engage in harmful behavior unless involuntary commitment is continued. Id.
our interpretation of the recommitment statute is in accord with that of other
cases involving involuntary commitment as mentally ill. For example, in In re Brown, 640 N.W.2d 919 (
An initial commitment may be extended by up to 12
months. If after the first such extension
the patient continues to need civil commitment, the patient must be recommitted
based on a new commitment petition. The
initial commitment period under the new petition is limited to 12, rather than
6, months. The standard for commitment at the hearing on the new petition is the
lesser standard of
640 N.W.2d at 922-23 (citations omitted) (emphasis added). Our analysis here also is consistent with our earlier interpretation of the recommitment statute. See In re Robledo, 611 N.W.2d 67, 69 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating that lower standard of proof of Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4, applies in consecutive recommitment hearings).
maintains that the language used by the supreme court applying the statute in Brown is dictum and should not control
the outcome of this case. Although
Bostic may be correct that the supreme court’s interpretation of section
253B.13 in Brown was not necessary to
the holding of that case, it is well settled that “dictum, if it contains an
expression of the opinion of the court, is entitled to considerable weight.” In re
Estate of Bush, 302
The interpretation of the recommitment statute advanced by Bostic does not comport with the plain language of the statute. Because proof of recent dangerous or harmful behavior is not required for involuntary recommitment and because the district court complied with the requirements of the statute, the district court did not err by ordering the recommitment of Bostic.
next contends that serial recommitments under Minn. Stat. § 253B.13 without proof of recent behavior demonstrating
that the patient is a danger to himself or others violate the right to due
process under the United States Constitution.
“Evaluating a statute’s constitutionality is a question of law,” which
we review de novo.
United States Constitution provides that no state shall “deprive any person of
life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV. In a civil-commitment case, “due process
requires that the nature and duration of commitment bear some reasonable
relation to the purpose for which the individual is committed.” Jackson
v. Indiana, 406
recommitment under section 253B.13 cannot exceed a one-year period and may
be extended only by filing a new petition for recommitment as mentally ill alleging
continued mental illness and dangerousness on the part of the patient.
The recommitment statute balances the need to protect the patient and others from the possibility of harmful behavior with a limitation on the period of commitment. A person committed as mentally ill may not be committed for more than one year without a petition and hearing in which proof of the patient’s continued status as mentally ill is established. For each recommitment petition, the district court must conclude that the patient continues to be mentally ill and that the patient is likely to harm himself or others or fail to provide necessities, unless commitment is continued. Taken together, these procedural requirements satisfy the due-process standard articulated in Jackson. Accordingly, Minn. Stat. § 253B.13 does not violate the United States Constitution’s due-process guarantee.
Bostic’s other due-process challenges are equally unavailing. First, Bostic invites us to determine that the recommitment statute violates the due-process protections of the Minnesota Constitution. But the Minnesota and United States constitutional standards for due process are identical. Call, 535 N.W.2d at 318.
Bostic argues that the United States Supreme Court articulated a due-process
standard in O’Connor v. Donaldson,
Finally, Bostic contends that the district court erred by rejecting voluntary case management as a less-restrictive alternative. We will not reverse a district court’s findings as to the least-restrictive treatment program that can meet the patient’s needs unless those findings are clearly erroneous. In re Thulin, 660 N.W.2d 140, 144 (Minn. App. 2003).
The district court considered less-restrictive alternatives, including “allowing [Bostic] to return to independent living, but rejected this because . . . [Bostic] requires supervision and monitoring for his own wellbeing.” The district court found that Bostic would be unable to provide necessary personal food, clothing, shelter, or medical care outside of a structured setting, reasoning that Bostic’s cognitive impairments prevent him from appreciating the severity of his cardiac condition and result in his refusal to use prescribed medications and oxygen.
The district court considered the hearing testimony and evidence regarding whether voluntary case management was an appropriate alternative for Bostic. After doing so, the district court rejected voluntary case management as an appropriate alternative because Bostic requires supervision and monitoring for his well-being. Based on our review of the record, we conclude that the district court did not err in its determination that less-restrictive alternatives to involuntary commitment would not protect Bostic’s safety and well-being.