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In re M. B.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

November 14, 2019

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

          Submitted July 3, 2018

          Multnomah County Circuit Court 17CC04251; Monica M. Herranz, Judge pro tempore.

          Jed Peterson and O'Connor Weber LLC fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Judy C. Lucas, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

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

         Case Summary: The trial court found that appellant is unable to provide for her basic personal needs and, under ORS 426.130(1)(a)(C) and ORS 426.005(1) (f)(B), civilly committed her to the Oregon Health Authority for a period not to exceed 180 days. Appellant appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the finding. The record shows that appellant was found naked outside of a bar. She was dirty, had minor cuts on her recently-shaven head, and made nonsensical statements to a police officer. She was taken to a hospital, where she told an investigator that she could not obtain food stamps because she had lost her identification, made many nonsensical statements, and engaged in some bizarre behavior. At her civil commitment hearing, appellant lacked a clear post-release housing plan. Held: The evidence as a whole was insufficient to civilly commit appellant based on inability to meet basic personal needs under ORS 426.130(1) (a)(C) and ORS 426.005(1)(f)(B).

         [300 Or.App. 523] AOYAGI, J.

         Appellant seeks reversal of a judgment committing her to the Oregon Health Authority for a period not to exceed 180 days. She argues that the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court's finding that she was unable to provide for her basic personal needs, which is a basis for commitment under ORS 426.130(1)(a)(C) and ORS 426.005 (1)(f)(B). 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. T. W. W., 289 Or.App. 724, 726, 410 P.3d 1032 (2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). We describe the facts in accordance with that standard.

         Officer Ibrahim was dispatched to a local bar after the police received multiple calls that a woman was harassing customers outside the bar. It was mid-July and around 8:00 p.m. Upon arrival, Ibrahim observed appellant standing fully naked on the side of the street. When he got out of his car, appellant put her shirt on, although she later took it off again (and then put it on again at his request). A woman standing next to appellant told Ibrahim that she knew appellant from high school and that appellant was "not being herself." Ibrahim observed that appellant was dirty, "basically didn't have any hair," and had minor cuts on her head. Appellant appeared not to know exactly where she was. She talked about "an invisible dog that was not there" and pointed at things that were not there. Appellant told Ibrahim that she had taken Xanax. Believing her to be at risk, Ibrahim called an ambulance to take appellant to the hospital. He thought, based on her appearance and behavior, that she was suffering from some sort of mental health issue and was a danger to herself and not able to "care for herself."

         Appellant was hospitalized. On her first night at the hospital, she told the pre-commitment investigator that she had not been eating well, had been hungry, and had [300 Or.App. 524] lost weight. She explained that she had been unable to get food stamps because she lost her identification. She also said that she had no current income. The next day, the investigator found appellant to be "significantly worse." Appellant made many "nonsensical statements" and engaged in "flight of ideas." She acknowledged to the investigator that she had defecated on the floor of her hospital room because she "had to go" and the bathroom smelled bad. She also acknowledged having put medication up her rear end and in her vagina and then offered it to the security guard, and she acted as if that was "perfectly reasonable" conduct. Appellant told the investigator that she was sorry about having shaved her head and wanted to grow her hair long again; she said that her head hurt from a sunburn, and the investigator noted that it was quite red.[1]

         A civil commitment hearing was held in July 2017. The state sought civil commitment under ORS 426.130 (1)(a)(C) and ORS 426.005(1)(f)(B), based on appellant being unable to provide for her basic personal needs. No other bases for commitment were asserted.

         Ibrahim testified about the circumstances of appellant's hospitalization, as described above, and then appellant testified. Appellant testified that she "[didn't] really know" why she was in the hospital. She said that she must have been "dehydrated" or had "a bug." Asked how she would obtain money if released, appellant said that she could be a Playboy Bunny for Hugh Hefner. Shortly thereafter, appellant spontaneously said-seemingly not in response to the pending question-that she was "tired of people beating [her] ass" and that, while she was "walk[ing] down the street one day to get [her] shoes back," a man once threw her down [300 Or.App. 525] and severely hurt her back and, when she woke up, a woman was "beat[ing] the bug out of [her]" and "cracked [her] in the head." Later, appellant said that she thought she had borderline personality disorder but "[didn't] even know what any of that stuff is really." She said that she did not want to be in a psychiatric hospital, preferred to be outside, and was "not a psychopath." Asked where she would go if released, appellant said that she would "march right over there to Tyler's house," or, "could go to John's house if somebody would call him." During the hearing, appellant was drinking from a water bottle with a banana peel in it, which she explained was for extra potassium. Appellant made many nonsensical statements throughout her testimony. She could not recall why she had been naked outside the bar.

         Examiner Edelson gave her report to the court, which contained diagnostic impressions of psychosis not otherwise specified and methamphetamine-induced psychosis. (Appellant had tested positive for amphetamines when she arrived at the hospital.) Edelson listed appellant's symptoms as "visual hallucinations, tangential, flight of ideas, delusions, grandiose." She reported that appellant "[c]annot answer direct questions in a meaningful way" and that "her only organized statement" was her "clear" statement that she wanted to be released. Edelson found that appellant had "no insight into being naked downtown [and] no explanation for her behavior" and that she "is too disorganized to plan and follow through [with outpatient] care or even shelter." As for Rogers, he noted that appellant "had no realistic or rational plan should she be released." Rogers ...


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