This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:
William Richard Iverson.
Filed July 31, 2007
Washington County District Court
File No. P7-06-7136
William Richard Iverson, #127136,
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Willis, Judge; and Parker, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
challenges his commitment as mentally ill to the mental-health unit at the
Appellant William Iverson is serving
a sentence for first-degree assault, with an expected release date in May 2009.
The district court noted that Iverson
has an “extensive history of mental illness and civil commitment, having been
committed [by the] Washington County District Court on numerous prior
occasions.” In July 2006, while he was
incarcerated, Iverson went off of his neuroleptic medication, and by October
2006, his symptoms reappeared. In
November 2006, a petition was filed with the district court, seeking Iverson’s commitment
as mentally ill to the mental-health unit at the
A hearing was held on the petition. At the hearing, Iverson testified that he does not suffer from a mental illness, alleging instead that he suffers from brain damage as a result of torture by the police. Iverson testified also that he opposes the use of neuroleptic medication because he has not “threatened or . . . hurt anybody” and because he has been “trying to show signs [that he is] a shaman [and is] different than other people.”
Dr. Orr, the court-appointed examiner, testified that he diagnosed Iverson with “schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type,” which is characterized by disjointed thoughts, “bizarre displays of disjointed behaviors,” paranoia, and “mood disregulation[,] mostly in the direction of appearing quite manic.” Dr. Orr testified that he believed to a reasonable degree of psychiatric certainty that Iverson was a danger to himself or others.
the hearing, the district court committed Iverson as mentally ill to the
mental-health unit at
D E C I S I O N
reviewing a district court’s commitment of a person as mentally ill, this court’s
review is limited to a determination of whether the district court complied
with the Minnesota Commitment and Treatment Act. In re Civil
Commitment of Janckila, 657 N.W.2d 899, 902 (
Under Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1(a) (2006), a district court may commit a person if there is clear and convincing evidence that the person is “mentally ill.” Under the statute, a person is mentally ill if the person
has an organic disorder of the brain or a substantial psychiatric disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, or memory which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or to reason or understand, which is manifested by instances of grossly disturbed behavior or faulty perceptions and poses a substantial likelihood of physical harm to self or others as demonstrated by:
(2) an inability for reasons other than indigence to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care as a result of the impairment and it is more probable than not that the person will suffer substantial harm, significant psychiatric deterioration or debilitation, or serious illness, unless appropriate treatment and services are provided;
(3) a recent attempt or threat to physically harm self or others; or
(4) recent and volitional conduct involving significant damage to substantial property.
§ 253B.02, subd. 13(a) (2006). The
likelihood that a person may harm himself or others must be demonstrated by a
recent attempt or threat to harm himself or another or by an overt failure to obtain
the necessities of life, which are defined in the statute. In re
McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d 621, 623 (
Iverson contends that the district court’s finding that there is a substantial likelihood that Iverson is a danger to himself or others is clearly erroneous, arguing that he “has not placed one finger on any D.O.C. Correctional Officers.” The district court found that Iverson has “frequently acted in a hostile and aggressive manner” and that he “has continued to make threatening statements to staff.” Dr. Orr noted in his report that mental-health-unit staff had “observed [Iverson] to be hostile and so ‘unpredictable’ . . . that they have been forced to maintain him on a higher level of behavioral restriction.” And Dr. Orr concluded that “[t]he potential for [Iverson] to be a danger to himself due to his mental illness clearly exists if any attempt were made for him to be in a less restrictive setting.” We conclude, therefore, that the district court’s finding that there is a substantial likelihood that Iverson poses a danger to himself or others is not clearly erroneous.
also challenges the district court’s order authorizing the use of neuroleptic
medication. A person is presumed to have
the capacity to consent to the administration of neuroleptic medication. Minn. Stat. § 253B.092, subd. 5(a) (2006).
But a district court may authorize the involuntary
administration of such medication if it determines that the person lacks the
capacity to consent.
Iverson challenges the district court’s finding that “no social, cultural or religious” reason precludes the use of neuroleptic medication, arguing that he is a “shaman” and is a practicing member of the “Shinto Islam” faith. But Dr. Orr noted in his report that Iverson “could not elaborate on this [claim] at all.” And there is no evidence in the record that Iverson’s faith precludes the use of neuroleptic medication.
The district court determined that a “reasonable person” would “understand and accept that the potential benefits from the use of such medication are appropriate” and would consent to the treatment. And the district court found that Iverson “reacts well to the use of such medication and suffers minimal, if any, side effects.” The district court’s findings are based on Dr. Orr’s report, which concluded that the “[r]ecords are quite clear in describing how [Iverson] has benefited in the past from such medications” and “the records indicate that for the most part [Iverson] has tolerated [any side-effects] very well.” We therefore conclude that the district court did not err by authorizing the involuntary administration of neuroleptic medication to Iverson.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.