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In re T. Z .

Court of Appeals of Oregon

July 26, 2017

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

          Submitted February 28, 2017.

         Marion County Circuit Court 15CC02212; Rafael A. Caso, Judge pro tempore.

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

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Inge D. Wells, Assistant Attorney General, filed the brief for respondent.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Wollheim, Senior Judge.

         Case Summary:

         In this civil commitment case, appellant challenges a trial court order that continued her commitment under ORS 426.301 and ORS 426.303 on the basis that she is still a “person with mental illness” under the expanded criteria defining mental illness, ORS 426.005(1)(f)(C), and requires further treatment. In appellant's view, that determination lacked clear and convincing evidence.

         Held:

         The evidence was legally insufficient to show that appellant, at the time of her recommitment hearing “is exhibiting symptoms or behavior substantially similar to those that preceded and led to” a prior hospitalization as required by ORS 426.005(1)(f)(C)(iii), and, therefore, appellant was not a “person with mental illness.”

         Reversed.

         [287 Or.App. 9] ORTEGA, P. J.

         In this civil commitment case, appellant challenges a trial court order that continued her commitment under ORS 426.301 and ORS 426.303 (providing for further commitment and a hearing if the continued commitment is contested) on the basis that she is still a person with a mental illness under the expanded criteria defining mental illness, ORS 426.005(1)(f)(C) (including persons with a chronic mental illness, see 287 Or.App. at 12-13), and requires further treatment. In appellant's view, that determination lacked clear and convincing evidence. Appellant also assigns error to the trial court's determination that she was a danger to herself, ORS 426.005(1)(f)(A). The state concedes that the record was insufficient to support that determination, and we accept the state's concession. As for the expanded criteria determination, we view the record in the light most favorable to the trial court's determination and review the evidence, as supplemented and buttressed by permissible derivative inferences, to assess whether, when so viewed, the record was legally sufficient to permit a rational factfinder to reach that same outcome. See State v. M. A.. 276 Or.App. 624, 625, 371 P.3d 495 (2016) (citing Dept. of Human Services v. N. P.. 257 Or.App. 633, 639, 307 P.3d 444 (2013)). Under that standard, we reverse.[1]

         Appellant, 40 years old at the time of her recommitment hearing in April 2016, suffers from schizoaffective disorder, which means that appellant's perceptions of her environment are distorted (she hears people saying things that are not said and sees things that are not there) and she has dramatic swings in mood, from euphoria to striking out at individuals when angered. Appellant's disorder has progressively worsened since she was at least 16, when she was involved in a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and a coma. In addition to her disorder and memory problems, appellant experienced significant pain after breaking her ankle two months before the recommitment hearing, and she also has chronic pain in her left arm due [287 Or.App. 10] to an injury to nerves in her neck and shoulder. The chronic pain has led to addictions to opiate medications and heroin use.

         For appellant's disorder, she received a daily dose of 30 milligrams of Haldol, an antipsychotic medication. She believed, however, that she did not have a mental illness, that all of her problems stemmed from her chronic pain issues, and that she consequently needed only opiate medication. In an unsupervised setting, appellant would stop taking the Haldol or decrease the dosage because she believed that she did not need it and because she would forget to take it due ...


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