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In re E.D.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

July 2, 2014

In the Matter of E. D., Alleged to be a Mentally Ill Person. STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,
v.
E. D., Appellant

Submitted: May 20, 2014.

Lincoln County Circuit Court. 113978. Sheryl Bachart, Judge.

Susan D. Isaacs filed the brief for appellant.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and Andrew M. Lavin, Assistant Attorney General, filed the brief for respondent.

Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and DeVore, Judge, and Garrett, Judge.

OPINION

Page 1033

[264 Or.App. 72] ORTEGA, P. J.

Appellant challenges a judgment of involuntary civil commitment, arguing that the state did not meet its burden of proving bye clear and convincing evidence that, because of his mental illness, he is a danger to himself or others. ORS 426.130. We agree and, therefore, reverse.

We review whether the state presented sufficient evidence to support a civil commitment for legal error. State v. R. E., 248 Or.App. 481, 483, 273 P.3d 341 (2012). We are bound by the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by evidence in the record. State v. A. D. S., 258 Or.App. 44, 45, 308 P.3d 365 (2013). As in other equitable proceedings, " we view the evidence, as supplemented and buttressed by permissible derivative inferences, in the light most favorable to the trial court's disposition and assess whether, when so viewed, the record was legally sufficient to permit that outcome." Dept. of Human Services v. N. P., 257 Or.App. 633, 639, 307 P.3d 444 (2013) (stating our standard of review in juvenile dependency cases).

We state the facts consistently with that standard. Appellant was 26 years old at the time of the hearing. He suffers from schizoaffective disorder and voluntarily receives monthly injections of antipsychotic medication. In November 2011, appellant attacked another mental health client while at a treatment center. He struck that client and pushed him against a glass window; by the end of the fight, both men had cuts on their hands. Appellant told Buckmaster, a mental health investigator and crisis worker for Lincoln County Health and Human Services, that he initiated the attack because he thought that the man had stolen paint brushes from his home. He also expressed that he thought he should kill the man for stealing the paintbrushes, that the man had given him $100 to buy drugs, and that he had taken the money to teach the man a lesson. Appellant also asked Buckmaster to contact Interpol to report a crime.

About a week later, appellant was locked out of his house and went to a treatment center. When he was told that he could not stay there, he threatened to break the center's windows and, as a result, police brought him to [264 Or.App. 73] an emergency room. At the emergency room, Buckmaster evaluated appellant and noted that he was confused and his thoughts were disorganized. Buckmaster struggled to decide whether to send appellant home or keep him in the hospital but, upon appellant's request, sent him to the psychiatric unit.

The next day, when Buckmaster interviewed appellant, appellant asked Buckmaster if he had brought appellant's paintbrushes for him, something they had not previously discussed. Appellant told Buckmaster that he felt that he needed to break the treatment center's windows in order to get help, or that he needed to kill himself or kill somebody else in order to get arrested. During that conversation, appellant talked to people who were not present and at times referred to himself in the third person. Appellant told Buckmaster that he wished he were dead because he does not like being mentally ill; however, Buckmaster did not believe that appellant was suicidal.

At the civil commitment hearing the following week, Buckmaster observed that appellant was experiencing auditory hallucinations. At the end of the hearing, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that appellant suffered from a mental disorder and, because of that disorder, was a danger to himself, even though he is not suicidal, and a danger to others.

On appeal, appellant does not challenge the trial court's conclusion that he has a mental disorder. Rather, he argues that the state did not present clear and convincing evidence that, because of his ...


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