Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed February 24, 1998
File No. P7971559
John P. Dimich, 16 Northeast Third St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (for appellant)
John J. Muhar, Itasca County Attorney, W. James Mason, Assistant County Attorney, Itasca County Courthouse, 123 Northeast Fourth St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellant challenges the district court's judgment finding him to be mentally ill and committing him jointly to the University Medical Center-Mesabi and the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center. We affirm.
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).
At the commitment hearing, the court-appointed psychiatrist testified that appellant's diagnosis was paranoid psychotic disorder, that he was in need of antipsychotic medication to treat this disorder, and that commitment was needed so that treatment could proceed. The court-appointed psychologist confirmed the psychiatrist's diagnosis and the need for commitment. Appellant's wife and a nurse from the psychiatric unit where appellant was being held both testified as to appellant's paranoid delusions. That appellant had faulty perceptions of reality could also be seen from his own testimony.
As to the substantial likelihood that appellant may harm others, both court-appointed examiners testified that psychotic paranoia can be dangerous. Appellant's wife testified that appellant had told her he would shoot her if he found out that she or her family were involved with those who were allegedly watching him. According to the petition for commitment and appellant's own testimony, appellant struck his wife. She then took their three children and moved into "safe housing." Appellant's assault of his wife and his threat to shoot her is sufficient to show a substantial likelihood that he will physically harm others. See In re Martin, 458 N.W.2d 700, 704-05 (Minn. App. 1990) (assault threats by psychotic person provided sufficient evidence of substantial likelihood of harm to self or others); In re Anderson, 367 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1985) (when danger of patient's condition is evident, court is not compelled to wait until irreparable harm is suffered). The district court's finding that appellant is mentally ill is not clearly erroneous.
The district court considered alternatives to commitment but rejected voluntary treatment because appellant "makes it clear that he does not intend to cooperate" with any treatment plans. The court also considered alternative treatment programs before ordering joint commitment, first to the University Medical Center-Mesabi in Hibbing (a 45-day community-based residential treatment program) and then, if appellant's condition deteriorated, to the Brainerd Human Services Center (a regional treatment center).
Both the court-appointed psychiatrist and psychologist felt commitment was necessary for treatment. The psychologist recommended inpatient treatment as the least restrictive alternative. The psychiatric nurse confirmed that appellant would not take his prescribed medication. Appellant testified that he was not mentally ill and not in need of any psychiatric treatment or medication. This evidence supports the district court's finding that voluntary programs were not likely to work.
Community-based nonresidential treatment, a less restrictive alternative, was not appropriate because of appellant's lack of willingness to participate in a treatment plan. Placement at the Itasca Medical Center was not possible because it no longer has a 45-day treatment program. The record supports the district court's determination that dual commitment to the University Medical Center-Mesabi and the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center is the least restrictive alternative.