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In re C. M. C.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 11, 2019

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

          Submitted September 12, 2019

          Multnomah County Circuit Court 18CC04295; L. Randall Weisberg, Judge pro tempore.

          Joseph R. DeBin and Multnomah Defenders, Inc., fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Inge D. Wells, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Shorr, Judge, and James, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Appellant challenges a judgment committing him to the Mental Health Division for a period not to exceed 180 days, arguing that the record is insufficient to support the trial court's determination that his mental disorder rendered him unable to provide for his basic needs, ORS 426.005(1)(f)(B).

         Held:

         The record was insufficient to support appellant 's basic-needs commitment.

         [301 Or.App. 207] ORTEGA, P. J.

         Appellant challenges a judgment committing him to the Mental Health Division for a period not to exceed 180 days on the ground that he has a mental illness. ORS 426.130. Appellant argues that (1) the trial court issued a warrant of detention that lacked proof that he had been advised of the warning required by ORS 426.123(1)-in appellant's view, that constitutes reversible plain error; and (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the trial court's determination that appellant's mental disorder rendered him unable to provide for his basic needs, ORS 426.005(1)(f)(B). We reject appellant's first assignment of error without further discussion. See State v. C. F. P., 299 Or.App. 196, 447 P.3d 85 (2019); State v. T. H., 298 Or.App. 290, 442 P.3d 607 (2019); State v. R. C, 298 Or.App. 280, 443 P.3d 742 (2019). As to the second assignment of error, we agree with appellant that the evidence in the record is insufficient to support his basic-needs commitment. Accordingly, we reverse.

         We review whether the state presented sufficient evidence to support appellant's civil commitment for legal error and are bound by the trial court's factual findings that are supported by evidence in the record. State v. E. D., 264 Or.App. 71, 72, 331 P.3d 1032 (2014) (citations omitted). We therefore recite the following facts in the light most favorable to the trial court's disposition. Id.

         Appellant-who was 22 years old at the time of the commitment hearing-suffers from schizophrenia, and that mental disorder was complicated by his co-occurring developmental disorder of autism. Appellant's conditions caused him extreme anxiety, which led to constant residential instability. In the events leading up to this commitment hearing, for example, appellant was hospitalized at Unity Center for Behavioral Health for a period of three weeks before being discharged and sent to Transition Projects TPI (TPI). Appellant quickly became anxious and left TPI, without taking his medications with him. At 4:00 a.m. the next day, appellant returned to Unity, stating that he did not know how to get food or money and that he had no money, no phone, and only one change of clothing. According to Jennifer Haynes, a case manager with Multnomah County's [301 Or.App. 208] Forensic Division Program, this was illustrative of "a cyclical pattern" with appellant: He would be stable when hospitalized; initially would be "completely willing" to try out a housing placement; would quickly change his mind about the placement and leave, often without taking his medications with him; would rapidly decompensate; and would return to the hospital or be picked up by law enforcement.

         Appellant's schizophrenia and autism also caused him to exhibit executive-functioning issues with planning, decision-making, and staying focused. Appellant recognized that he had symptoms, but his overall insight into his need for treatment was very poor. Although appellant complied with taking medications, his mother and Tara O'Connor-a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Unity-did not believe that he was organized enough to do so unsupervised: For example, he did not know that he needed to go to a doctor to obtain a prescription as opposed to showing up at a Walgreen's to write his own prescription. O'Connor agreed that medications might not improve some of appellant's cognitive impairments, which had both mental and developmental components, and she explained that multiple antipsychotic medications had yielded negligible improvement. O'Connor described appellant as "thus far be[ing] really treatment resistant"[1] and opined that he might need more aggressive ...


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