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In re T. Y.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

April 26, 2017

In the Matter of T. Y., a Person Alleged to have a Mental Illness.
v.
T. Y., Appellant. STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,

          Submitted March 21, 2017

          Multnomah County Circuit Court 16CC02695; A162258 Connie L. Isgro, Judge pro tempore.

          Joseph DeBin and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Leigh A. Salmon, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Sercombe, Presiding Judge, and DeHoog, Judge, and Flynn, Judge pro tempore.

         Case Summary: Appellant seeks reversal of a judgment involuntarily committing him to the custody of the Mental Health Division based on a finding that, because of a mental disorder, appellant was a danger to himself. Appellant contends that the state failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was a danger to himself.

         Held: The evidence presented does not establish that there was a particularized and highly probable threat to appellant's safe survival as a result of his mental disorder. Accordingly, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that appellant is a danger to himself and the trial court erred in committing him.

          SERCOMBE, P. J.

         Appellant seeks reversal of a judgment involuntarily committing him to the custody of the Mental Health Division based on a finding that, because of a mental disorder, appellant was a danger to himself. See ORS 426.005(1)(f); ORS 426.130. Appellant contends that the state failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was a danger to himself.[1] As explained below, we agree and, accordingly, reverse.

         When we review a challenge to a civil commitment judgment, unless we exercise our discretion to review the matter de novo, "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." State v. M. A.. 276 Or.App. 624, 625, 371 P.3d 495 (2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, the parties have not requested de novo review and, in any event, it is not a case in which we would conclude that de novo review is warranted. See ORAP 5.40(8). Accordingly, we state the facts in accordance with the trial court's express and implied findings and review the trial court's conclusion that the requirements for commitment were satisfied to determine if it is supported by legally sufficient evidence. M. A., 276 Or.App. at 625.

         Appellant has a psychotic disorder that causes him to experience auditory command hallucinations. In April 2016, the voices that he hears instructed appellant to kill himself. As appellant saw it, those voices wanted him to believe that he was evil and to kill himself; however, "it was really murder" that would be "perceived as a suicide." He believed that his GPS unit was also "directing [him] to suicide." Appellant sent text messages to his parents stating that he was going to kill himself and drove to a bridge in Washington. He got out of his car, walked to the edge of the bridge, and looked over it for 30 to 45 seconds. Deciding he did not want to die and that he had gone too far, appellant called a suicide hotline for help and, ultimately, with his parents' encouragement, sought help at a local hospital.

         Immediately before his hospitalization, appellant was suffering from an internal hemorrhoid that he believed was "nano-induced anal probing." According to appellant, the "probing" was one of the reasons he had gone to the bridge to kill himself. At the hospital, appellant received treatment for the hemorrhoid. At the hearing, appellant testified that, although he believed that the hemorrhoid had "nothing to do with the nano-induced anal probing, " he nonetheless had "stopped being probed."

         Appellant testified that the voices had also tried to kill him and make it look like suicide a couple of times in the past and, according to appellant's father, appellant had talked about suicide in emails in the months leading up to the incident in April. However, appellant had not attempted suicide in the past and, according to the doctor that had been treating him in the hospital, did not have ongoing suicidal ideation. He did not suffer from depression and his disorder was not one of "chronic suicidally." Indeed, appellant testified that he wants to live. He stated that he does not want to hurt or kill himself and has no plans to do so, and, if the voices told him to jump off a bridge again, he would not do it.

         According to appellant, some of the voices are "on [his] side" and others are not, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell "friend" from "foe." The voices are "pretty stubborn, " and appellant believes that other people would not be able to handle them as he does. He explained that he had "been able to deal with the voices for going on 13 years now" but that it could "get pretty tough." Appellant has a history of impulsive behavior. On one occasion, without warning, he jumped up out of bed and grabbed his father. However, appellant did not injure his father and that was the only occasion on which he had acted in that way. Most recently, the voices had instructed ...


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