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In re T. M.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

March 20, 2019

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

          Submitted August 7, 2018

          Wasco County Circuit Court 17CC04883; John A. Wolf, Judge.

          Alexander C. Cambier and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Robert M. Wilsey, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Hadlock, Presiding Judge, and DeHoog, Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Appellant was involuntarily committed to the Oregon Health Authority for a period not to exceed 180 days, after the trial court concluded that she is a person with mental illness within the meaning of ORS 426.130(1)(a)(C). Specifically, the court found that appellant is dangerous to others due to a mental disorder. Appellant seeks reversal of the order of involuntary commitment. Appellant does not dispute that she suffers from bipolar disorder with psychotic features. However, she contends that the evidence was insufficient to establish that she was dangerous to others due to her mental illness. In finding otherwise, the court relied on an incident shortly before her commitment in which appellant had threatened and come close to assaulting her ex-husband, who was her primary caretaker, as well as appellant's disruptive behavior at the commitment hearing. Held: Although the evidence was overwhelming that appellant had a mental disorder, the evidence was insufficient to establish that she was dangerous to others at the time of the hearing within the meaning of the statute. The only evidence was that appellant's near-assault of her ex-husband was an isolated incident, and nothing in the record suggests that appellant's conduct at the [296 Or.App. 704] hearing was of a type predictive of future dangerousness, as opposed to merely rude and disruptive.

         Reversed.

         [296 Or.App. 705] AOYAGI, J.

         Appellant seeks reversal of an order committing her involuntarily to the Oregon Health Authority for up to 180 days. Appellant contends that the trial court erred because the evidence in the record was insufficient to establish that she was dangerous to others due to a mental disorder. See ORS 426.130(1)(a)(C); ORS 426.005(1)(f)(A). We agree with appellant and, accordingly, reverse.

         Unless we exercise our discretion to review de novo, which we do not in this case, 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. L. R., 283 Or.App. 618, 619, 391 P.3d 880 (2017); see also State v. S. R. J., 281 Or.App. 741, 748-49, 386 P.3d 99 (2016) ("Whether the evidence of danger is legally sufficient to support a determination that appellant is 'dangerous' for purposes of ORS 426.005(1) is a determination that we review as a matter of law.") We state the facts in accordance with that standard of review.

         Appellant suffers from bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Her primary caregiver and sole support is D, to whom she was married for 22 years until their divorce in 2007. Appellant has continued to live with D since their divorce.

         Appellant stopped taking her medications in April 2017. Several months later, around August 1, D told appellant that she should go to bed. It was around 2:00 Or. 3:00 a.m., and appellant had been sitting in a chair for almost 24 hours. To facilitate her going to bed, D removed a number of religious statues from the top of appellant's bed, wrapped them in a blanket, and threw them on the floor. When appellant went in the bedroom and saw what he had done, she "went bonkers." According to D, "[s]he told me I attacked St. Anthony and I was going to hell, and she was going to kill me, and she went up to the fireplace, grabbed a poker and raised it over her head like that and was actually coming after me." D was in a recliner, so he could not back up, and "[i]t was scary." Appellant was about four feet in [296 Or.App. 706] front of him, and the poker was two-and-a-half to three feet long. D thought that appellant was actually going to hit him, but, "at the last minute," D grabbed a large brass lamp from the side table, and appellant backed off. Appellant calmed down after about five minutes and put the poker down. It was "pretty scary," and D thought about calling the police. He did not, because, within five minutes, appellant started laughing and was back to being "jovial, nice, [and] friendly."

         Appellant was subsequently brought to the hospital for other reasons (not described in the admitted evidence), which led to a commitment hearing that took place on August 15. Appellant was verbally disruptive throughout the hearing, including constantly interrupting the witnesses, the attorneys, and the judge, and frequently insulting them.[1] Appellant, who has no children, repeatedly referenced her (delusional) belief that she had a "little boy" at home who was starving and needed her to bring him food and water. Early in the hearing, in the midst of appellant insisting that she needed to get home to feed her little boy, the court noted on the record that appellant (who was shackled) had attempted to leave the ...


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