In the Matter of S. T., a Person Alleged to have Mental Illness.
S. T., Appellant. 299 Or.App. 696 STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,
Submitted September 6, 2018
County Circuit Court 6635; Daniel J. Wren, Judge pro tempore.
Alexander C. Cambier and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the
brief for appellant.
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,
Summary: Appellant in this civil commitment case appeals an
order continuing his commitment to the Oregon State Hospital
for an additional period not to exceed 180 days. On appeal,
appellant asserts that the trial court erred in determining
that he still has a mental illness and is in need of further
treatment because his mental disorder makes him dangerous to
others. Held: The record was sufficient to support a
finding that appellant required commitment because he was
likely to stop taking his medications if he were not
hospitalized and would be a danger to others if not treated.
Or.App. 697] HADLOCK, P. J.
was committed to the Oregon Health Authority in 2016 because
of mental illness and, in the proceeding that is the subject
of this appeal, the trial court continued the commitment on
the ground that appellant "still has mental illness ***
and is in need of further treatment." The court's
determination was based on a finding that appellant's
mental disorder makes him dangerous to others. Appellant
challenges that determination on appeal. For the reasons
below, we reject appellant's arguments and, accordingly,
continued-commitment proceeding of the kind involved here,
the trial court's task is to "determine whether the
person is still a person with mental illness and is in need
of further treatment." ORS 426.307(6); see also
State v. M. G., 296 Or.App. 714, 717, 440 P.3d 123
(2019) (explaining continued-commitment process). As
pertinent here, "person with mental illness" is
defined to include a person who, because of a mental
disorder, is "[d]angerous to *** others." ORS
426.005(1)(f). A person is dangerous to others, for purposes
of the commitment statutes, if the person's mental
disorder makes the person "highly likely to engage in
future violence toward others, absent commitment."
State v. S. E. R., 297 Or.App. 121, 122, 441 P.3d
254 (2019). "Because the standard of proof in a civil
commitment case is the clear-and-convincing-evidence
standard, the evidence supporting commitment must be
sufficient to permit the rational conclusion that it is
highly probable that the person poses a danger to * * *
others." Id. Accordingly, "the evidence
must supply a concrete and particularized foundation for a
prediction of future dangerousness absent commitment."
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
reviewing a trial court's decision to determine whether
those standards were met, "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); [299 Or.App. 698]
see S. E. R., 297 Or.App. at 122 (applying that
standard in the commitment context).
sole witness at appellant's continued-commitment hearing
was Dr. Shad, who is a treating psychiatrist for appellant at
the Oregon State Hospital. Dr. Shad testified that
appellant's psychiatric problems started when appellant
was 49 or 50 years old, a few years before the hearing.
Appellant has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In addition,
medical imaging shows that a particular lobe of
appellant's brain is "completely missing." That
imaging, along with appellant's particular history,
indicate that he may have a kind of dementia called
Pick's Disease. According to Dr. Shad, individuals with
that kind of dementia "present with personality changes,
like sexual dis-inhibitions [and] behavioral
dis-inhibitions." Dr. Shad testified that
appellant's "personality changes can be explained
more on the basis of this anatomical presentation we are
seeing, rather than schizophrenia by itself." Before
starting to present signs of Pick's Disease, appellant
had no history of mental disorder.
initially was hospitalized in Coos County and later was
transferred to the state hospital. In October 2016, appellant
once called another patient a "golden good boy," a
scuffle broke out, and appellant punched the other patient in
the face. In December 2016, another patient accused appellant
of stealing his gloves; the two men exchanged punches, with
appellant yelling, "I'm going to shoot you."
Dr. Shad testified that those incidents of aggression
"absolutely" reflect behavioral issues stemming
from the changes in the structure of appellant's brain.
Shad acknowledged that appellant had engaged in only a few
acts of aggression, but testified that "the reason for
that could be that [appellant] is being treated all this [299
Or.App. 699] time with medications" that could be
"checking this behavior." Dr. Shad had no doubt,
however, that the "very complete evidence of brain
change" is associated with appellant's
"personality changes." Dr. Shad's "biggest
concern" centered on the fact that additional
neurological changes that occur with advancing age "can
further complicate [appellant's] behavior."
Shad testified about the medications that appellant takes at
the state hospital. There is "no ideal approved drug for
this condition which he has." However, appellant is
given antidepressants, for which there is some evidence of
efficacy, and antipsychotic medications that are used to
treat the delusional and psychotic aspects of his illness.
Appellant still has a number of delusions despite being on
medication, possibly because of the changes to his brain.