may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of:
Filed September 2, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. P39760144
Douglas F. McGuire, Smith Fisher Attorneys at Law, MSB Center, Suite 400, 1401 W. 76th St., Richfield, MN 55423 (for appellant Hundley)
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, E. George Widseth, Asst. County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent Hennepin County)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.[*]
Appellant challenges the district court's decision to commit him to the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center as mentally ill. Because appellant meets the requirements for commitment, we affirm.
The SWAT team, using tear gas and a flash bang device, subdued appellant and transported him to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Appellant was naked and incoherent; he referred to himself as the "second coming of Christ." A revolver containing six spent cartridges was found in the bathroom.
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 253B.07, subd. 2 (1996), Hennepin County petitioned for judicial commitment of appellant as mentally ill and chemically dependent. See Minn. Stat. §§ 253B.02, subd. 13 (1996) (definition of mentally ill person); 253B.02, subd. 2 (definition of chemically dependent person). The district court concluded that clear and convincing evidence established that appellant was mentally ill but not that he was chemically dependent; the court then ordered his commitment to the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center (AMRTC), which it found was the least restrictive, appropriate placement available.
Appellant challenged his commitment in this court, alleging that clear and convincing evidence did not establish either that he posed a substantial likelihood of harm to himself or others, or that his commitment to the AMRTC was the least restrictive alternative available.
On appeal from a judicial commitment, this court's review is limited to whether the trial court complied with the Minnesota Commitment Act and whether the commitment was justified by the findings based on the evidence submitted at the hearing. See In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995). The trial court's factual findings must be affirmed unless clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01; In re Schauer, 450 N.W.2d 194, 196 (Minn. App. 1990).
1. Does clear and convincing evidence support the finding that appellant is mentally ill pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 13?
A court may order a patient's commitment if it "finds by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed patient is a mentally ill * * * person * * *." Minn. Stat. § 253B.01, subd. 1 (1996).
"Mentally ill person" means any person who has an organic disorder of the brain or a substantial psychiatric disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, or memory which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or to reason or understand, which
(a) is manifested by instances of grossly disturbed behavior or faulty perceptions; and
(b) poses a substantial likelihood of physical harm to self or others as demonstrated by:
(i) a failure to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care as a result of the impairment, or
(ii) a recent attempt or threat to physically harm self or others.
Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 13. Appellant argues that he does not meet the standard because the record lacks clear and convincing evidence that he poses a substantial likelihood of harm to himself or others. We disagree.
Dr. Chris Meadows, the court-appointed examiner, testified that appellant's diagnosis was major depression with paranoid thinking; that his perception of reality was distorted because his thinking had persecutory and grandiose features; that he had been unable to recognize reality when he was apprehended by the police and when he was brought to the crisis center; that his thinking, while sequential, was based on paranoid assumptions; and that the behavior that led to his commitment could recur if he were not in treatment. Dennis Geer, supervisor of the psychiatric social workers at the facility to which appellant was taken by the police, testified that the staff felt appellant was "grossly psychotic" when he was admitted; that his disorder grossly impaired his functioning when it reached psychotic proportions; that appellant is in denial of his mental illness and blames others for it; that he did not acknowledge firing the gun; and that he is unlikely to change his behavior if released into the community. Both witnesses' testimony supported the conclusion that appellant had grossly impaired judgment, behavior, and capacity to recognize reality.
The district court is not compelled to delay action until irreparable harm is suffered, as long as the danger of a patient's condition has already become evident. See In re Anderson, 367 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1985). Here, appellant was found naked and incoherent behind a locked bathroom door with six bullet holes in it and with a revolver with six spent cartridges. The statute requires a failure to obtain necessities or a recent attempt or threat to physically harm self or others. Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 13(b). The facts demonstrate evidence of the danger of appellant's condition; the court was not obliged to find otherwise merely because no actual bodily harm had resulted from the shooting.
The record supports the district court's determination that clear and convincing evidence showed appellant to be mentally ill.
2. Does clear and convincing evidence support the finding that commitment to AMRTC is the least restrictive alternative?
Before ordering a commitment, a court must find that no less restrictive alternative is available. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1. Appellant argues that clear and convincing evidence does not show that commitment to AMRTC is the least restrictive available for him. Again, we disagree.
Appellant, who has a history of mental illness, had been receiving outpatient treatment prior to the incident on March 25. He contends that this treatment was sufficient for his illness and was a less restrictive alternative. The treatment did not prevent the incident that led to appellant's commitment, however, and he was diagnosed as psychotic and paranoid despite the treatment. Moreover, the adequacy of the treatment could not be assessed because appellant refused to allow his records to be reviewed.
Commitment to AMRTC was recommended, in part, because appellant had failed to involve himself in any prescribed treatment, and because he had no insight into the need for therapeutic intervention. The district court rejected group homes and a shorter term hospitalization because these alternatives would not meet with appellant's needs. We agree that the evidence fails to show that any less restrictive alternative is available.
Because the record supports the district court's determination that appellant is a mentally ill person and that his present placement is the least restrictive alternative available, we affirm.
[ ]* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
[ ]1While his appeal was pending, appellant petitioned the district court under Minn. Stat. § 253B.17 (1996) for a hearing on the need for his continued commitment. The court conducted the hearing, denied his petition, and ordered judgment stating that appellant's commitment as mentally ill remained in full force and effect.