In the Matter of S. T., a Person Alleged to have Mental Illness.
S. T., Appellant. STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,
Submitted September 6, 2018
County Circuit Court 6635 Cynthia D. Carlson, Senior Judge.
DeBin and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the brief for
F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor
General, and Christopher A. Perdue, Assistant Attorney
General, fled the brief for respondent.
Hadlock, Presiding Judge, and DeHoog, Judge, and Aoyagi,
Appellant seeks reversal of an order that continues his
commitment to the Oregon Health Authority for an additional
period not to exceed 180 days. The order is based on the
trial court's determination that appellant's mental
disorder has left him unable to provide for his basic needs
outside a hospital setting. Appellant argues on appeal that
the record does not support that determination.
Held: No evidence in the record establishes how
appellant's inability to make plans for obtaining housing
or healthy food will, "in the near future," lead to
appellant suffering "serious physical harm," as
required under ORS 426.005(1)(f)(B).
Or.App. 684] HADLOCK, P. J.
seeks reversal of an order that continues his commitment to
the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for an additional period
not to exceed 180 days. The order is based solely on a
determination that appellant's mental disorder has left
him unable to provide for his basic needs outside a hospital
setting; the court found that the state did not prove that
appellant is dangerous to himself or others. On appeal,
appellant contends that the record does not support a
determination that his mental disorder leaves him unable to
provide for his basic needs. We agree and, accordingly,
person who has been committed may have the commitment
continued involuntarily if a court determines, by clear and
convincing evidence, that he or she "[i]s still a person
with mental illness and is in need of further
treatment." ORS 426.307(6); ORS 426.301. ORS
426.005(1)(f) describes three circumstances in which an
individual may be deemed a "[p]erson with mental
illness" for purposes of the commitment statutes. Only
one of those circumstances is pertinent here: Under ORS
426.005(1)(f)(B), a person has a mental illness if, because
of a mental disorder, the person is "[u]nable to provide
for basic personal needs that are necessary to avoid serious
physical harm in the near future, and is not receiving such
care as is necessary to avoid such harm."
Shad, a physician at the Oregon State Hospital, testified
that appellant suffers from a form of dementia that causes
delusions, behavioral changes, and personality changes.
Appellant started experiencing personality changes in about
2013 and was originally hospitalized in Coos County in
September 2016. Appellant was moved to the state hospital in
January 2017 and Shad began treating him about two months
later; Shad remained appellant's physician through the
time of the commitment hearing in August of that year.
described this case as "very unfortunate,"
explaining that the type of dementia from which appellant
[294 Or.App. 685] suffers causes personality changes that are
"very difficult especially for relatives and the loved
ones to deal with." No medications have been approved to
treat the illness. Accordingly, Shad researched case studies
and "very cautiously started [appellant] on the
medication which has the best evidence for this kind of
disorder." Appellant's "danger problems"
have "significantly reduce [d]" since he began that
medication regimen, which includes antidepressants and sleep
aids. However, Shad believes that appellant will stop taking
his medications immediately if he is released from the
hospital because he has no "insight, whatsoever, into
his illness." A disruption of medication would have
negative consequences. First, Shad described the disruption
as "toxic to the brain." Second, if appellant stops
taking the medications, he will relapse in a matter of days
and "will lose control over the behavior that [the
hospital has] been managing very nicely here."
has been working hard to find "a lower level of
care" for appellant because state hospital personnel
have done as much as they can for him. He wanted to be able
to discharge appellant "to a place where he can be
managed," noting that appellant "can survive ***
provided that his treatment continues." Because no new
placement has yet ...