This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




In Re: Karl Leonard Meyer.

Filed May 26, 1998


Huspeni, Judge

Dakota County District Court

File No. P4928911

John G. Westrick, Westrick & McDowall-Nix, P.L.L.P., 400 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant Meyer)

James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Karen Clayton, Assistant County Attorney, Dakota County Judicial Center, 1560 Highway 55, Hastings, MN 55033 (for respondent Hennepin County)

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



Appellant seeks reversal of the trial court's decisions to continue his commitment as mentally ill and to authorize the involuntary use of neuroleptic medication. He contends the trial court abused its discretion in admitting an affidavit into evidence, had insufficient evidence to find a likelihood of harm, erred when it concluded no less restrictive alternative than commitment was available, and erred when it authorized neuroleptic medication. Because any error as to the evidentiary ruling was not prejudicial and because there was clear and convincing evidence to support appellant's continued commitment to the Hennepin County Medical Center and the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center and to support the Jarvis order, we affirm.


The trial court first committed appellant for six months as mentally ill in May 1996, based on his mental disorder and threats to kill his girlfriend. The court authorized the use of neuroleptic medication to treat his condition. The court held a hearing in November 1996 and continued appellant's commitment and the Jarvis order for 12 months. The Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) provisionally discharged appellant in March, but the court revoked the discharge on October 30, 1997, because appellant failed to comply with medication and treatment.

Meanwhile, HCMC petitioned for appellant's continued commitment on October 28, 1997. After a hearing, the court on November 19, 1997, continued appellant's commitment and the authorization for medication for another 12 months. On December 23, 1997, HCMC again provisionally discharged appellant.



Appellant first challenges the trial court's decision to admit into evidence the affidavit of a psychiatrist from New York. A trial court decision on the admissibility of evidence is within its broad discretion, which will not be disturbed unless based on an erroneous view of law or an abuse of discretion. Uselman v. Uselman, 464 N.W.2d 130, 138 (Minn. 1990). The complaining party must show prejudicial error resulting from an erroneous ruling before an appellate court will order a new trial. Id.

The testimony of witnesses shall be taken orally in open court unless otherwise provided by the rules. Minn. R. Civ. P. 43.01. Experts, however, may testify as to facts or data not admissible into evidence as a basis for their opinions. Minn. R. Evid. 703(a); see id. cmt. (1989) (purpose of rule is to allow experts to base opinions on reliable hearsay and other inadmissible facts). Two court-appointed examiners reviewed the challenged affidavit in this case.

Respondent here does not cite specific authority that would allow the introduction of the affidavit into evidence. Instead, respondent asserts that the affidavit is relevant and provides foundation for the attachments to the affidavit,[1] and that other evidence provides some of the same information. This argument is persuasive.

The trial court here did not rely on the challenged affidavit but instead referred to the affiant only by finding that appellant's most recent commitment in May 1996 "was based, in part, on a pattern of threatening and intrusive behavior towards a female psychiatrist." As appellant acknowledges, he did not appeal from the May 1996 commitment and therefore he may not challenge findings from that order. While there was no evidentiary basis upon which to admit the affidavit, the trial court did not rely on the affidavit in its findings for commitment. The experts, however, under rule 703(a), could properly cite the affidavit. Appellant has not demonstrated that any prejudicial error occurred from the trial court's ruling.


In determining whether to continue a person's commitment, the trial court must find in relevant part that involuntary commitment is necessary for the protection of the patient or others. Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4 (Supp. 1997); see Minn. Stat. § 253B.13, subd. 1 (Supp. 1997) (applying this standard to a petition to continue commitment). Specifically, the court need not find that the patient made a recent attempt or threat to physically harm self or others or had a recent failure to provide necessities. Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4. Instead, the court must find

the patient is likely to attempt to physically harm self or others, or to fail to provide necessary personal food, clothing, shelter, or medical care unless involuntary commitment is continued.

Id. Findings of the trial court will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01; In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995).

The trial court cited appellant's long history of mental illness. It noted that after his most recent commitment, he was relatively stable until August 1997, when he stopped taking his medication, left his job, and stopped having contact with his mother. Appellant has a history of obsessive, inappropriate contact with women. He sent three e-mail messages to a former classmate that were rambling and filled with religious content and statements of conspiracy theories. He sent the last e-mail, worded in an intimidating and intrusive manner, at 3:27 a.m. on October 22, and demanded she accompany him to the State of Virginia. The court also cited the fact that appellant twice attempted to escape, once on October 30 when he ran away from the hospital, and once on November 6 when he ran from the transport deputies at the Dakota County Judicial Center. It noted his most recent commitment was based in part on a pattern of threatening and intrusive behavior towards a female psychiatrist.

Appellant contends he has not made any recent direct attempts or threats to harm either himself or others and characterized the experts' testimony as conclusory and speculative. See In re McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d 621, 623 (Minn. 1995) (noting in reversal of initial commitment that likelihood of harm may not be based on speculation). He also argues there was no showing he was unable to provide necessities.

As the experts explained, the facts cited by the trial court show appellant was likely to harm himself or others if not treated. They cited his failure to take medication, his prior threats to kill his girlfriend, his actions in stalking the psychiatrist (admittedly including flying to New York to contact the psychiatrist to see whether she was a former classmate whom appellant believed had undergone a sex change), and his intrusive contacts with his former classmate. Appellant has exhibited impulsive behavior, his delusions are likely to become more intense without medication, increasing the likelihood he would act on them, and he believes that as a prophet of God he can justify doing anything. He lacks insight into his behavior, has no empathy as to how terrifying his actions are to others, and believes he does not need medication. The experts believed he posed a danger to himself or others if not treated. The trial court was not clearly erroneous in determining appellant met the standard for continued commitment.


Next, appellant contends that the trial court erred in ordering commitment because a less restrictive alternative was available. This decision is reviewed under a clearly erroneous standard. In re Melcher, 404 N.W.2d 309, 312 (Minn. App. 1987).

Before ordering the recommitment of an individual previously found to be mentally ill, the trial court must determine there is no alternative to involuntary commitment. Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4. The trial court rejected less restrictive alternatives because of appellant's recent attempts or threats to harm himself or others, his wish to avoid treatment, his history of failing to cooperate and follow through with treatment and conditions of a stay, and his belief that he does not need treatment. It found that dual commitment to HCMC and Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center was the least restrictive treatment program that can meet his treatment needs.

Appellant contends that the use of long-acting injections provided a viable less restrictive alternative to commitment because they would ensure his medication compliance and the trial court failed to consider this option. But it is only with the commitment that the trial court has the authority to issue a Jarvis order. Minn. Stat. § 253B.092, subd. 8(g) (Supp. 1997). Further, the experts testified appellant needed hospitalization for stabilization even if he began taking medication. There was clear and convincing evidence to support the trial court's determination.


Finally, appellant challenges the trial court's Jarvis order. The trial court must determine the necessity and reasonableness of treatment with neuroleptics. Jarvis v. Levine, 418 N.W.2d 139, 144 (Minn. 1988). The facility seeking to administer the neuroleptics must prove by clear and convincing evidence that such medication is necessary. In re Peterson, 446 N.W.2d 669, 672 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Dec. 1, 1989). The trial court's findings will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. In re Martin, 527 N.W.2d 170, 172 (Minn. App. 1995).

Appellant first argues that if his commitment is reversed, the trial court has no authority to order medication. Because we are upholding the commitment, appellant's argument fails.

Next, appellant contends that the treatment is too intrusive; he argues that because he is not harming anyone, the benefits of administering neuroleptics do not outweigh the intrusion. Jarvis, 418 N.W.2d at 144 (listing relevant factors to consider). He contends he voluntarily took his medication until he was provisionally discharged, demonstrating that he is amenable to voluntary medication once stabilized. He contends that this amenability is reinforced by his provisional discharge from this commitment once he began receiving depot injections.

A psychiatrist recommended treatment with neuroleptic medication. The court found appellant was very delusional but refused medication, believing it was unnecessary. The medication would decrease his delusional thinking and behavior, allowing him to participate in other forms of treatment and making him more comfortable. Without medication, his prognosis is poor and he could deteriorate. The trial court had clear and convincing evidence from which to order the treatment.


[1] Attachments included two letters sent by appellant to the psychiatrist. Appellant does not dispute that he sent the letters.