This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In Re: Christopher T. Norgren.

Filed April 22, 1997

Reversed and remanded

Huspeni, Judge

Olmsted County District Court

File No. P3962958

Steven K. Murakami, Bagniefski & Murakami, P.L.L.P., 423 Third Avenue S.E., P.O. Box 189, Rochester, MN 55904 (for appellant Norgren)

Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, Susan J. Mundahl, Assistant County Attorney, 151 Fourth Street S.E., Rochester, MN 55904-3710 (for respondent petitioner)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Parker, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.



The trial court committed Christopher Norgren as mentally ill and authorized the involuntary administration of neuroleptic medication. Norgren appeals, contending that the trial court made insufficient findings to support his commitment. We reverse and remand to allow the trial court to make specific findings.


A hearing was held on petitions by a social worker to commit Norgren as a mentally ill person and by a physician to authorize involuntary treatment with neuroleptic medication. Dr. Rosemary S. Linderman, a psychologist and the court-appointed examiner, diagnosed Norgren as suffering from undifferentiated schizophrenia.[1] He has a history of mental illness and noncompliance with medication. After having difficulties for several months and then exhibiting bizarre behavior at his apartment, he was admitted to the crisis unit of a hospital. While hospitalized, Norgren threatened a female staff member, pushed her to the wall, and put his hands around her neck in a choking fashion. Dr. Linderman recommended commitment to the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center for stabilization and monitoring.

Dr. Gerald Gammell, M.D., diagnosed Norgren with chronic schizophrenia. Norgren signed the neuroleptic consent form in which he indicated he was refusing to take neuroleptics, although he voluntarily is taking medication that was prescribed on an emergency basis after the choking incident. Dr. Gammell did not believe Norgren was competent to decide whether to take medication and recommended neuroleptic medication to treat Norgren's condition.

Appellant testified he believes he can care for himself independently. While acknowledging the medication helps him, he said he was not mentally ill. He acknowledged grabbing the nurse, but said he did not choke her.

The trial court ordered commitment as mentally ill. It found the least restrictive alternative to be inpatient treatment at a setting such as the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center. The trial court also authorized the involuntary administration of neuroleptic medication. On appeal, Norgren challenges only the sufficiency of the findings for commitment.


A trial court must find a person mentally ill by clear and convincing evidence. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1 (1996); see Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 13 (1996) (definition of mentally ill person). The trial court must make specific findings in support of the commitment:

The court shall find the facts specifically, separately state its conclusions of law, and direct the entry of an appropriate judgment. Where commitment is ordered, the findings of fact and conclusions of law shall specifically state the proposed patient's conduct which is the basis for determining that each of the requisites for commitment is met.

If commitment is ordered, the findings shall also include a listing of less restrictive alternatives considered and rejected by the court and the reasons for rejecting each alternative.

Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 2 (1996); Minn. R. Civ. Commitment 11.01 (commitment must be justified by findings based upon evidence at hearing).

As Norgren argues, and respondent petitioner concedes, the trial court findings do not "specifically state" what conduct of Norgren's is "the basis for determining that each of the requisites for commitment is met." Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 2. Nor are there sufficient findings as to the least restrictive alternatives. Id.

Petitioner social worker contends that because the evidence supports the merits of the commitment and because commitment to the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center is the least restrictive alternative, this court should nonetheless uphold the trial court's determinations. In the alternative, however, she asks this court to remand for findings.

On several occasions, this court has upheld commitments where the findings were scanty, although legally sufficient. In re King, 476 N.W.2d 190, 194 (Minn. App. 1991); In re Adams, 352 N.W.2d 117, 119 (Minn. App. 1984). In other cases, when the findings were insufficient, the matter was remanded for findings. In re Danielson, 398 N.W.2d 32, 37 (Minn. App. 1986); In re Stewart, 352 N.W.2d 811, 813 (Minn. App. 1984). The legislature, to ensure that a commitment was based on specific behavior, required specificity in the trial court's findings. See Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 2. Further, having specific findings facilitates appellate review of the trial court decision. In this case, both the legislative intent and this court's needs require that the trial court make additional findings. We remand to permit the trial court to make specific findings as required by Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 2, to support the decision to commit Norgren as a mentally ill person.

Reversed and remanded.

[ ]1The parties stipulated to the consideration of Dr. Linderman's report without her testimony.