This opinion will be unpublished and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:
Alicia Lee Bolles.
Filed August 7, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File Nos. 27-MH-PR-06-136,
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, John L. Kirwin, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from an order for indeterminate civil commitment as mentally ill and dangerous, Alicia Bolles contends that the record does not support the district court’s determination of dangerousness. Because we conclude that sufficient evidence established that Bolles met the statutory criteria for commitment as mentally ill and dangerous, and that Bolles failed to show that a less-restrictive treatment option was available, we affirm.
F A C T S
Bolles is twenty-one years old and has been diagnosed with paranoid
schizophrenia. She was seen at
In September 2005, Bolles stopped taking her antipsychotic medication because she did not believe she was mentally ill. Bolles’s case worker, however, was not aware of that decision and Bolles’s stay of commitment was allowed to expire on the scheduled date of December 16, 2005.
days later, on December 29, 2005, Bolles walked into
Bolles was subsequently charged with two counts of second-degree assault. But she was found incompetent to stand trial, and the district court initiated proceedings to commit Bolles as mentally ill and dangerous.
Bolles’s April 2006 commitment hearing, the district court received evidence relating
to the attack and Bolles’s mental-health problems. Following the hearing, the district court
found that Bolles engaged in an overt act causing serious physical harm to
another, and that there is a substantial likelihood that Bolles will engage in future
acts capable of inflicting serious physical harm. Based on these findings, the court found that
Bolles qualified as mentally ill and dangerous and ordered her committed to the
a review hearing in January 2007, the district court heard testimony about
Bolles’s progress in treatment. But the
district court concluded that Bolles continued to qualify as mentally ill and
dangerous and ordered her committed indeterminately to the
appeal, Bolles contends that she is not dangerous and should not have been
committed as mentally ill and dangerous.
She does not dispute, however, that she satisfies the criteria to be
committed as mentally ill. Instead, she
argues that the stabbing incident was not sufficiently dangerous to warrant indeterminate detention and that her
progress during treatment shows that she will not be a danger in the
future. In addition, she claims that the
D E C I S I O N
commit a person as mentally ill and dangerous, the petitioner must prove by
clear and convincing evidence (1) that the person is mentally ill and (2) that,
as a result of the mental illness, the person presents a clear danger to the
safety of others as demonstrated by the facts that (i) the person has engaged
in an overt act causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm to another
and (ii) there is a substantial likelihood that the person will engage in future
acts capable of inflicting serious physical harm on another.
a person’s initial commitment as mentally ill and dangerous, the district court
must hold a review hearing.
challenges the district court’s finding that she committed an overt act causing
or attempting to cause serious physical harm to another. An appellate court will not set aside a
district court’s findings of fact in a commitment case unless the findings are
clearly erroneous. In re McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d 621, 623 (
person attempts to cause serious physical harm if she engages in “an overt
dangerous act capable of causing
serious physical harm to another.” In re Jasmer, 447 N.W.2d 192, 195-96 (
In this case, the district court heard a description of Bolles’s attack on the recreation-center employee and heard medical opinions about the seriousness of the attack. The evidence established that Bolles stabbed another person four times with a knife that had a three-inch blade. The victim did not know Bolles, and the attack was unprovoked. Bolles stabbed the victim with sufficient force to puncture the victim’s skin. The victim’s cuts were about one-sixth of an inch deep. One witness, a medical doctor who provided psychiatric treatment for Bolles, described the victim’s injuries as “not terribly serious but . . . moderately serious.” Another expert, however, testified that “I think the potential is there but I don’t think the seriousness actually occurred.”
Based on clear and convincing evidence, the district court reasonably found that Bolles committed the requisite overt act. Bolles caused serious physical harm to the recreation-center employee, based on a common understanding of the word “serious.” Furthermore, applying the rationale of Jasmer, the evidence establishes that whether or not the physical harm that was actually inflicted was serious, Bolles’s stabbing the recreation-center employee repeatedly with a knife that had a three-inch blade was an act capable of causing serious physical harm to another. Therefore, the district court could find on either basis that Bolles’s actions constituted an overt act causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm to another. See Id. at 195-96 (equating “attempt to cause serious physical harm” with “capable of causing serious physical harm”).
Bolles challenges the district court’s finding that, at the time of the review
hearing, there was a substantial likelihood that she would engage in future
acts capable of inflicting serious physical harm on another. We review the district court’s finding for
clear error. McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d at 623.
A single act can support a finding of future dangerousness. In re
Clemons, 494 N.W.2d 519, 521 (
At the review hearing, Bolles presented evidence that her condition had improved. One of the court-appointed psychologists testified that Bolles was “certainly more interactive, more able to answer questions, she was engaging, she had greater affect.” He testified that “if she continues the treatment . . . I think her likelihood of committing any future violent acts is quite low.” He also testified about what would happen if Bolles stopped taking her medications: “I would anticipate, based on reading her past records, that when she was off medications she was considerably different. And so she had been on medications before, gone off some medications, gotten considerably worse, and so I think that would happen again.”
psychologist who had been treating Bolles at the
Despite Bolles’s apparent improvement, the district court could still take into account Bolles’s history of failing to take prescribed medication. Furthermore, the district court could conclude that Bolles was apt to fail to take her medication in the future. Based on the expert testimony, the district court could reasonably conclude that as a result of Bolles’s probable refusal to comply with necessary medical care, she would be substantially likely to engage in future acts capable of inflicting serious harm on another. Therefore, the district court’s finding was not clearly erroneous.
Bolles argues that she established by clear and convincing evidence that the Anoka-Metro
Regional Treatment Center was an available treatment option that was consistent
with her treatment needs and the requirements of public safety. Therefore, Bolles argues that under Minn.
Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 1(a), she should not have been committed to the
district court, however, found that Bolles failed to establish that the