In the Matter of Z. W. Y., a Person Alleged to have Mental Illness.
Z. W. Y., Appellant. STATE OF OREGON, Respondent,
Submitted November 15, 2018
County Circuit Court 16CC06622; Steven B. Reed, Senior Judge.
R. DeBin and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the brief for
F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor
General, and Inge D. Wells, 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 Health
Authority for an additional period not to exceed 180 days. On
appeal, appellant asserts that the trial court erred in
determining that he was a danger to others because there was
no evidence in the record that he had harmed or attempted to
harm others in the past. Held: The record was
insufficient to support a finding that appellant was highly
likely to harm others if he were released.
Or.App.704]HADLOCK, P. J.
challenges an October 2017 order of continued commitment for
mental illness, arguing that the record does not support the
trial court's determination that appellant's mental
disorder makes him a danger to others. We agree and,
trial court's task in a continued-commitment proceeding
is to "determine whether the person is still a person
with mental illness and is in need of further
treatment." ORS 426.307(6). When, as here, a continued
commitment is pursued based on the person being a
"danger to * * * others," the trial court must
determine whether 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). In determining whether the evidence
meets that standard, we review the record in the light most
favoring the trial court's disposition. See id.
(applying that standard in the commitment context).
time of the October 2017 continued-commitment hearing,
appellant was 32 years old and a patient at the Oregon State
Hospital; he had been there since January 2017. Dr. Flynn,
appellant's treating psychiatrist, testified that
appellant is the subject of a stalking order obtained by a
woman, A, whom appellant had repeatedly harassed at her
worksite. Petitioner was originally admitted to the state
hospital in 2015 after being charged with a
restraining-or-der violation "for restoration for
capacity to aid and assist in his own defense."
Appellant "was found never able to assist," was
transferred to county jail, and then was civilly committed in
October 2016. By January 2017, he had been returned to the
Or.App.705] Flynn testified that appellant has been diagnosed
with schizophrenia, which causes him to suffer delusions.
Some of those delusions relate to A: "through his mental
illness, [appellant] perceived that * * * [A] was his
girlfriend." Appellant is angry with A and "blames
her for him being admitted to the hospital." Appellant
has talked about "seeking revenge" against A and
once, several months before the continued-commitment hearing,
described a fantasy about breaking into her home and
strangling her. More recently, appellant spoke about wanting
to protest in front of As house and throw red paint on her.
Appellant wants to have the stalking order lifted so that he
can contact A. He wishes to express his anger toward A if he
is released from the hospital; he feels "within his
right to contact her, call her, go to her home, go to her
workplace." Appellant wants to have A arrested and
charged with perjury for statements she made in association
with obtaining the stalking order.
takes medications for treatment of his mental disorder,
although one medication had recently been changed because he
had "maintained this delusional idea that he is in a
relationship with [A] and he wants to seek revenge."
Flynn thinks there has been some success in treatment
because, during his past hospitalization, appellant was not
taking medications and "was much more aggressive and
required multiple seclusions for aggressive behavior."
Since he has been taking medications, appellant has been
"less irritable" and "less hostile."
Flynn would "expect all of that to return" and
would expect appellant's delusions and anger to worsen if
he stopped taking medications. However, Flynn acknowledged
that appellant has not been aggressive toward any patients or
staff at the state hospital.
has no insight into his mental disorder; as is common with
people with schizophrenia, he does not understand that his
"thoughts are the symptoms of the illness." He has
said that he will stop taking medications when he leaves the
hospital and he has expressed an interest in firearms. Flynn
believes that appellant is dangerous to others because he
"has a specific victim in mind," A, has "made
multiple attempts to contact her even with the stalking
order," and intends to seek her out to express his [299
Or.App.706] anger. On one occasion when appellant went to
A's worksite, a grocery store, he had a duffel bag and
threatened to shoot A's coworkers.
testified on his own behalf at the continued-commitment
hearing. He asserted that he had last tried to contact A
about ten months earlier, when he called the store where she
worked. Appellant testified that he wanted the stalking order
lifted because it was difficult for him to avoid the grocery
store where A worked. He acknowledged "sort of hav[ing]
romantic feelings" for A, but denied that he wanted a
relationship with her. Appellant said that all he meant by
getting revenge against A was "some kind of verbal
confrontation or to try to get her prosecuted." He
acknowledged that he "probably come[s] across as being
violent" because he is "kind of preoccupied with
warfare and stuff," and he further acknowledged having
been "in fights with people." However, appellant
described only one such incident, which he said occurred when
another person punched and kicked him, and he "just kind
of pushed [the other person] away." Appellant confirmed
that he would not voluntarily take psychiatric drugs if
released from the hospital; he does not think he ...