This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).




In the Matter of: Louis B. Edison.

Filed October 1, 1996


Schumacher, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. PO9660219

Brian C. Southwell, 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for Appellant Edison)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, John P. St. Marie, Assistant County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for Respondent Hennepin County Medical Center)

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Harten, Judge.



Appellant Louis B. Edison was dually committed as mentally ill and chemically dependent to the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center (AMRTC). He appeals, challenging only the trial court decision to commit him to AMRTC as the least restrictive alternative. We affirm.


Edison has a long history of chronic alcoholism. He has struggled with drinking for some 20 years, regaining sobriety after periods of drinking through intensive involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Edison also has been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, and the court's examiner diagnosed him with a personality disorder with features of paranoia as well.

Most recently, Edison was admitted to the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) Crisis Intervention Center in April 1996 after a dispute with his landlord and the police in which he reported a burglary and claimed he was being "psychologically slaughtered." He also was arrested earlier in April for causing a disturbance on a bus.

Dennis Geer, a psychiatric social worker on Edison's treatment team, testified he discussed several less restrictive options with Edison, who refused the placements. Geer recommended that Edison be committed to AMRTC because he shows continuing signs of his mental illness. Although medication-compliant, he continues to fight treatment and is not stable enough to enter into a treatment agreement with his psychiatrist. After he has achieved three to four months of stability, he could be provisionally discharged, conditioned on participation in HCMC day treatment, attendance at daily AA meetings, and an agreement to refrain from assaultive behavior or the use of alcohol.

Dr. Chris Meadows, a psychologist and the court-appointed examiner, also recommended placement at an inpatient and secure treatment center which could treat appellant's bipolar affective disorder as well as his sociopathic and paranoid tendencies. Because appellant rejected less restrictive placements, the only alternative was dual commitment to AMRTC for treatment of his mental illness and chemical dependency.

Edison proposed an alternative plan. This included having a number of people monitor him for signs that he was "hyper," which would apparently indicate he was not taking medication, and attending the day treatment program at HCMC, where he recently completed a six-month program at the Psychosocial Learning Center. He contends he could refrain from assaultive behavior or language, and he could control his drinking by attending the day program and AA meetings, which would not leave much time to drink. A friend who is a psychiatric nurse also testified as to Edison's success in using AA, and his independent nature which caused him difficulty with structured environments.

The trial court found that the least restrictive alternative available for placement of Edison was commitment as mentally ill and chemically dependent to AMRTC. It rejected Edison's plans for intensive AA involvement and outpatient psychiatric care and stayed commitment with community placement, because those options did not address his psychiatric problems sufficiently. Edison appeals, challenging only his placement at AMRTC.


If a trial court finds a person is mentally ill or chemically dependent, and there is no suitable alternative to commitment, the court shall commit the patient to the least restrictive treatment program. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1 (1994). The trial court decision will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. See In re King, 476 N.W.2d 190, 193 (Minn. App. 1991) (continued commitment).

Edison argues that despite extensive evidence that he was enthusiastic and capable of completing a community-based alcohol and mental illness treatment program, the court rejected this option contrary to the directives of the statute that provides the patient's preferences should be considered. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1. Further, he contends HCMC shifted its initial support for less restrictive treatment because of what he characterizes as nonserious behavioral problems and because he continued to negotiate for an outpatient-based program. Edison also cites his success at achieving sobriety in an intensive AA program without commitment. He disputes Dr. Meadows' testimony that he did not wish to address his mental illness issues, noting that he conceded he had bipolar disorder and had voluntarily sought treatment for the disorder in August 1995 and was then treated by a psychiatrist and completed an intensive course at the Psychosocial Learning Center.

The trial court was presented with conflicting opinions as to the least restrictive alternative. It relied upon the testimony by the social worker and the court-appointed examiner, indicating Edison needed inpatient treatment because he lacked insight into his need for mental illness treatment and was not sufficiently stable. The trial court's determination is supported by clear and convincing evidence and is not clearly erroneous. See In re Emond, 366 N.W.2d 689, 692 (Minn. App. 1985) (trial court rejection of alternatives to state hospital supported by evidence that patient could not consent to voluntary treatment and was not stable enough for less structured environment of community facility).