This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




In Re: Michael Andrew Krasnov,

a/k/a Michael Karson.

Filed June 17, 1997


Crippen, Judge

Blue Earth County District Court

File No. P0961672

Randy J. Zellmer, Johnson, Anderson & Zellmer, P.L.L.P., 600 South Second Street, P.O. Box 637, Mankato, MN 56002-0637 (for appellant Michael Krasnov)

Ross E. Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, Todd W. Westphal, Assistant County Attorney, MacKenzie & Gustafson, Ltd., 424 South Minnesota Avenue, P.O. Box 360, St. Peter, MN 56082 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.



Appellant Michael Krasnov challenges the trial court's decision to commit him as mentally ill. We affirm.


Appellant first became ill with schizophrenia in 1981, during his sophomore year in college. Several hospitalizations and commitments resulted. Early in 1996, appellant moved to Chicago. When he returned to Minnesota to reside with his mother later that year, his condition had deteriorated and he exhibited unusual behavior. He soon left her home, after she demanded that he see a doctor.

Late in October 1996, a petition was filed for appellant's commitment. After a hearing, the trial court continued the matter for 60 days on the condition that appellant receive necessary medical treatment for his psychological condition. When appellant refused treatment services and was evicted from his apartment, another hearing was held in early January 1997. The trial court then committed appellant as mentally ill.[1]


1. Appellant questions whether the record includes clear and convincing evidence that he posed a substantial likelihood of physical harm to himself or others. Minn. Stat. §§ 253B.02, subd. 13(b) (1996) (defining mental illness), 253B.09, subd. 1 (1996) (requiring clear and convincing proof); In re McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d 621, 623-24 (Minn. 1995) (recognizing deference to trial court findings, but holding that commitment will be reversed if the record does not show by clear and convincing evidence that the standard for commitment was met).

The trial court found that appellant could not maintain himself socially or care for himself, did not have any place to live, might have no place to live in the future, appeared disoriented during his testimony at the hearing, refused medical treatment and medications, and, as a result of these circumstances, may be harmful to himself and to others. Appellant challenges some of these findings. We have reviewed the findings and determine they are supported by the evidence and are not clearly erroneous. McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d at 623.

The court found that appellant would not seek treatment voluntarily, based on the fact that he had not done so during the previous two months. He was evicted from his apartment at the end of December 1996. The police had been called to the apartment building on December 24, after appellant was found nude in the hallway of the building. Appellant was not presently employed and received social security disability benefits. He denied that he suffered from mental illness or needed medication, although he admitted the medication would help him.

Appellant argues that the court-appointed examiner did not support the commitment. In his second report of January 3, 1997, the examiner found that appellant continued to have a substantial psychiatric disorder with significant social adjustment problems. The examiner was unable to ascertain the facts as to several questionable situations, including appellant's failure to follow the psychiatrist's recommendations and possible eviction. The trial court found that these situations existed, and the examiner concluded that if this was the case, (a) these situations prompted serious concerns as to appellant's ability to live independently, and (b) without treatment, appellant was potentially harmful to himself or others.

Appellant points out that he has found living situations, can provide his own meals, and, with limited additional financial assistance, can meet his needs with his social security disability benefits. In a similar case, an appellant was not employed, had no income, and had no place to live. In re Harvego, 389 N.W.2d 266, 268 (Minn. App. 1986). His parents asked him to leave the family home because he was unmanageable due to his drug use and disregard for household rules. Id. The evidence showed appellant could not find a job or provide for housing, he opposed treatment for his worsening condition, and the psychiatric social worker believed he could not provide for his own needs. Id. This court stated:

Undeniably, the evidence here involves conduct reflecting an adjustment problem that may occur without mental illness. In addition, we are concerned where the record does not show a thorough inquiry on the danger issue, a topic with constitutional implications. Still, it is evident that appellant's conduct as well as his conflicts with his family are enlarged if not prompted by his illness. It is evident his health is deteriorating. The trial court was not compelled to delay action until irreparable physical harm was suffered, so long as the danger of appellant's condition had already become evident.

Id. Likewise, appellant has experienced a clear deterioration in his condition. The trial court found that he refused treatment, had difficulties with housing, could not care for himself, was not employed, and appeared disoriented. The trial court was not required to wait until irreparable harm occurred, when the danger of appellant's condition was apparent.

2. Appellant also challenges his commitment to the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center as the least restrictive alternative. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1 (requiring commitment to the least restrictive treatment program capable of meeting the patient's needs); In re King, 476 N.W.2d 190, 193 (Minn. App. 1991) (demanding consideration of alternative programs, as well as the patient's treatment preferences). The trial court decision will not be reversed if the record supports the finding such that it is not clearly erroneous. King, 476 N.W.2d at 193.

Appellant cites the court-appointed examiner's January 1997 report and testimony that he would benefit from outpatient treatment. We note that the examiner also testified that appellant's denial of his mental illness raised concerns. A patient's lack of insight into mental illness, inability to agree to voluntary treatment, and refusal to cooperate with treatment efforts justify a trial court's rejection of alternatives. See In re Melas, 371 N.W.2d 653, 655 (Minn. App. 1985). The trial court did not clearly err in finding no less restrictive alternatives to judicial commitment to the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.

3. Appellant challenges the trial court's decision to cut off his testimony at the January 1997 hearing, claiming that the court arbitrarily denied him the opportunity to testify. Appellant testified extensively on cross-examination. At the close of the hearing, his counsel indicated appellant wanted to testify and make a statement to the court. Appellant then engaged in a rambling narrative that the court cut short.

Appellant has the right to testify. See Minn. Stat. § 253B.08, subd. 3 (1996) (stating that all persons given notice of hearing have right to testify except the proposed patient's counsel). The right is not absolute and limitations are imposed by statutory and other evidentiary rules. A court may exercise reasonable control over a witness's testimony. Minn. R. Evid. 611(a). The manner of receiving testimony is almost wholly within the discretion of the trial court and does not constitute a ground for a new trial unless some prejudice is shown. Manion v. Tweedy, 257 Minn. 59, 67-68, 100 N.W.2d 124, 130 (1959).

Also, a court in a commitment proceeding may exclude a proposed patient who is seriously disruptive or totally incapable of comprehending and participating in the proceeding. Minn. Stat. § 253B.08, subd. 5(b) (1996). Implicit in this language is the right of the trial court to restrict testimony that causes a serious disruption to the proceeding or which is beyond comprehension.

It was well within the discretion of the trial court to determine whether appellant was profitably using his time and whether he had ample opportunity to testify. No prejudice was shown on this record and the trial court did not abuse its discretion.


[ ]1 In a March 19, 1997 letter, appellant requested that certain items be removed from the trial court file because they were filed after the order on appeal was issued and are unrelated to this appeal. For those reasons, this court in any event has not considered them and removal is unnecessary.