may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Gertie Lee Anderson,
Commissioner of Human Services,
Filed December 24, 1996
Judicial Appeal Panel
File No. 175
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, E. George Widseth, Assistant County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for Respondent Hennepin County)
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Jacqueline M. Moen, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 900, St. Paul, MN 55101-2127 (for Respondent Commissioner of Human Services)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Appellant Gertie Anderson petitioned for full discharge from her indeterminate commitment as mentally ill and dangerous. When the Commissioner of Human Services denied her request, she petitioned for rehearing and reconsideration before the judicial appeal panel. At the close of appellant's case, the appeal panel granted the Commissioner's motion to dismiss. We affirm.
Appellant's initial commitment followed her knife attack on a loss prevention officer who tried to apprehend her for shoplifting. Appellant was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, polysubstance abuse and dependence, and antisocial personality disorder.
In November 1994, appellant pleaded guilty to assault for the knifing incident and was incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee. She is eligible for supervised release in March 1997, and her sentence expires early in 1999.
Appellant petitioned the special review board for discharge from her commitment. The board recommended that the petition for full discharge be denied, but that appellant should be provisionally discharged to a halfway house upon completion of her sentence. The Commissioner of Human Services then denied her petition for full discharge.
Appellant petitioned the judicial appeal panel for rehearing and reconsideration. Testimony was presented describing appellant's proposed plan for her supervised release upon discharge from the correctional facility. It would require that she participate in support groups, attend a stress management program as necessary, take random urinalysis tests, meet with a psychologist and case manager weekly, reside at transitional housing, obtain full-time employment, and maintain a chemically-free lifestyle. While in prison, appellant completed a chemical dependency course and a relapse prevention plan, and the prison assessment report did not recommend that she complete a formal chemical dependency treatment program.
Dr. Ray Conroe, the court-appointed examiner, diagnosed appellant with bipolar disorder not otherwise specified in remission, possible cocaine and alcohol abuse in remission, and antisocial personality traits versus antisocial personality disorder. Appellant has not displayed symptoms of her bipolar disorder since March 1994 and has not received medication to treat her mental illness since October 1995. She has been chemically free since her commitment.
Dr. Conroe believed discharge would be appropriate, considering the supervised release plan available through the corrections system. Appellant is capable of making an acceptable adjustment to society, does not need further inpatient treatment, and is not a danger to the public. With the prison discharge plans tentatively in place, Conroe would have no concerns if appellant received a full discharge.
After appellant presented this evidence, her petition was dismissed on the motion of the Commissioner of Human Services.
Before discharge is appropriate, the patient must be capable of adjusting to open society, no longer dangerous to the public, and no longer in need of inpatient supervision and treatment. Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 15 (1994). While the appeal panel recognized that appellant's condition was in remission and commended her efforts, it affirmed the Commissioner's denial of the petition. It found no professional support in the record for full discharge, noting the court-appointed examiner felt that discharge must be with conditions, which included residing at the highly structured community facility.
Appellant argues that she proved by a preponderance of the evidence that she met the statutory criteria for discharge, citing the remission of her symptoms, Dr. Conroe's testimony, and testimony as to her release plan.
Dr. Conroe endorsed discharge with the proposed supervised release plan. While the record shows appellant is not presently dangerous and her mental illness is in remission, she is not capable of being placed in open society without supervision. There is no assurance the corrections plan would provide the mental health assistance that a provisional discharge plan under the commitment act would, or allow rehospitalization if necessary if appellant's mental health failed. Further, the plan, while detailed, is still tentative, and would, in any event, expire in 1999 upon completion of appellant's sentence. The appeal panel was not clearly erroneous in determining that appellant did not meet her initial burden of showing the discharge standards were met.
Appellant argues that Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 15, supports a full discharge with conditions. She cites the fact that in addition to the three discharge factors, another consideration is whether "specific conditions exist to provide a reasonable degree of protection to the public and to assist the patient in adjusting to the community." Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 15. She contends that the supervised release plan meets such conditions, making full discharge appropriate.
The appeal panel properly found there was no support for a "conditional full discharge." A person who is discharged subject to conditions has been given a "provisional discharge." Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 7. A provisional discharge plan must be developed, implemented and monitored by a designated social service agency, with quarterly reports to the Commissioner and treatment facility. Id., subd. 8; see Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 5 (defining "designated agency" as one selected by the county board to provide social services required under chapter 253B). A patient may then be fully discharged only by going through the discharge procedure in subdivision 15. A full discharge "with conditions" established by the correctional facility pursuant to supervised release from prison is not provided for in the statute. See Lidberg v. Steffen, 514 N.W.2d 779, 783 (Minn. 1994) (discussing importance of provisional discharge procedure as a means to permit adjustment to open society without sacrificing public safety concerns). As the appeal panel also found, no provisional discharge plan has been presented here.
Finally, appellant argues that the appeal panel failed to make findings on whether she met the statutory criteria for discharge. She contends the decision should be reversed or remanded for further findings because it fails to discuss the basis for the decision in sufficient detail. See Drewes v. Levine, 352 N.W.2d 456, 459 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding where record, order, and memorandum do not show whether panel considered legislatively-specified factors, and grounds for decision not clearly identified, remand is necessary).
In this case, the appeal panel found there was no evidence to support full discharge without conditions, which is supported by the record. The findings are adequate to show that the panel properly identified and determined the proposition that full discharge could be premised on a correctional discharge plan. The panel need not recite a specific statutory standard where the evidence shows the factfinder considered the standard and that it was met. See In re Blodgett, 510 N.W.2d 910, 917 (Minn.) (finding that although findings do not specifically refer to standard, record shows standard considered by trial court), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 146 (1994).