This opinion will be unpublished and may
not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


In Re: William David Sitzman

Filed September 7, 1999
Lansing, Judge

Faribault County District Court
File No. P99800352

Joel R. Welder, Wollschlager, Tow & Welder, P.A., 105 South State Street, Fairmont, MN 56031 (for appellant Sitzman)

Brian D. Roverud, Faribault County Attorney, P. O. Box 5, Blue Earth, MN 56013 (for respondent county)

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

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


On appeal from a final commitment order, William Sitzman contends the district court failed to make sufficient findings to support the commitment. Because the findings meet the statutory requirements and the evidence supports the findings, we affirm.


The district court initially committed William Sitzman on September 9, 1998, as mentally ill with paranoid schizophrenia. Sitzman then petitioned for release from continued care and treatment under Minn. Stat. § 253B.17 (1998). By order dated March 2, 1999, the court denied Sitzman's petition, concluding that he continued to be mentally ill and posed a substantial likelihood of harm to himself. On March 3, the court held a final commitment hearing under Minn. Stat. § 253B.12 (1988). After the hearing, the court extended Sitzman's commitment for 12 months, concluding, once again, that Sitzman continued to be mentally ill. Sitzman appeals from the final commitment order.


The district court may continue an involuntary commitment when it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) the person continues to be mentally ill; (2) involuntary commitment is necessary for the protection of the patient or others; and (3) there is no alternative to involuntary commitment. Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 4 (1998). If the district court orders continued commitment, its findings and conclusions must include a description of the conduct that is the basis for its determination that the statutory criteria of commitment continue to be met and that less restrictive alternatives have been considered and rejected. Minn. Stat. § 253B.12, subd. 7 (1998). We will not reverse a district court's findings of fact unless the findings are clearly erroneous, but we independently review whether the findings are sufficient to support the statutory requirements for involuntary civil commitment. See In re McGaughey, 536 N.W.2d 621, 623-24 (Minn. 1995).

Sitzman contends the district court made insufficient findings to support its determination that he remains mentally ill. We disagree. The district court found that Sitzman does not believe he is mentally ill; does not agree he needs medication; has failed to cooperate with treatment; and refuses to acknowledge that a former female coworker, who has obtained a restraining order against him, wants no contact with him.

The evidence clearly and convincingly supports the court's findings. Dr. Paul Holte, a psychologist at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, testified that Sitzman continues to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia; is unable to make decisions for himself; intends to continue harassing a former coworker; and poses a potential threat to himself, because he denies having a mental illness or being chemically dependent. Dr. Holte also testified that no less restrictive alternatives exist, because Sitzman (a) is unwilling to sign the release forms necessary for discharge to a group or halfway home, and (b) has failed to demonstrate the capacity to accept medication, work with his treatment team, and admit he is mentally ill and chemically dependent. Further, Dr. Holte testified that allowing Sitzman's commitment to expire or releasing him to his family were not viable options.

In addition to Dr. Holte, Sitzman testified he does not believe he is mentally ill or needs medication and, if released, might stop taking his medications within six months because it treats an illness he does not have. Sitzman also admitted having reported hearing voices and receiving messages from the television, but denied that he currently heard voices or received messages.

The combined testimony of Holte and Sitzman clearly and convincingly supports the court's findings that Sitzman continues to be mentally ill and is a danger to himself, and that commitment to St. Peter Regional Treatment Center is the least restrictive alternative. The findings are not clearly erroneous and meet the statutory requirements for continued commitment.