Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of:
Filed December 23, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. P19560073
Brian C. Southwell, 701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for appellant Leef)
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas G. Lavelle, Assistant County Attorney, A-2000 Hennepin County Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.
Appellant Linda Leef was committed as mentally ill. Leef appeals, arguing only that the evidence was insufficient to show that she posed a substantial likelihood of harm to herself or others.
Leef does not contest the fact that she suffers from the psychiatric disorder of paranoid schizophrenia, but argues there is insufficient evidence that she poses a threat of harm to herself or others. She claims her refusal to take neuroleptic medications and the fact that her co-conservators are not authorized to administer these medications do not support a finding that she would attempt to harm herself or others. Leef further argues that a delusion of harming oneself cannot support a determination of actual harm. She contends her co-conservators provide for her basic needs, and she has not exhibited any violent behavior. Thus, she claims the trial court erred in ordering her commitment.
A mentally ill person is defined as:
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 is manifested by instances of grossly disturbed behavior or faulty perceptions and poses a substantial likelihood of physical harm to self or others as demonstrated by:
(1) a failure to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care as a result of the impairment; or
(2) a recent attempt or threat to physically harm self or others.
Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 13(a) (Supp. 1997). A person must be found mentally ill by clear and convincing evidence. Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 1 (Supp. 1997). Our supreme court has defined the harm required for commitment as mentally ill:
The statute clearly requires that the substantial likelihood of physical harm must be demonstrated by an overt failure to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care or by a recent attempt or threat to harm self or others. Therefore, speculation as to whether the person may, in the future, fail to obtain necessary food, clothing or shelter, or medical care or may attempt or threaten to harm self or others is not sufficient to justify civil commitment as a mentally ill person. This is not to say, however, that the person must either come to harm or harm others before commitment as a mentally ill person is justified.
McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d at 623 (citations omitted).
The district court found that Leef was ill with paranoid schizophrenia and engaged in grossly disturbed behavior. The district court noted that Leef posed a substantial likelihood of causing physical harm as demonstrated by the fact that: (1) Leef was highly delusional; (2) she was unable to independently properly provide for her needs and may harm others; (3) she believed that people were out to get her and that many people were impostors; (4) she has no insight into her mental illness and refuses to take prescribed neuroleptic medications; and (5) her basic needs were routinely provided by her brother and sister. The district court also found that Leef's behavior would not improve without neuroleptic medication and that neither her brother nor sister were authorized to administer such medication. Based on these findings, the district court concluded that Leef was mentally ill and committed her to the head of the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center.
We conclude the record supports the district court's finding that there is clear and convincing evidence to support Leef's commitment. Leef is unable to provide for her basic needs absent intervention by her co-conservators. After conducting a psychiatric evaluation, two social workers testified that Leef had no insight into her mental illness. Furthermore, Dr. Hoberman, the court-appointed examiner, also acknowledged that the possibility existed that Leef "could exhibit some self-injurious behavior." Leef also acknowledges a lack of cooperation in refusing to take any neuroleptic medication, despite testimony that the use of medication would greatly improve her condition. On this record, we cannot say the district court erred in ordering Leef's commitment. The evidence supports the district court's finding that Leef poses a substantial likelihood of physical harm to herself or others.