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In re Christina V.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

December 26, 2013

IN RE THE MATTER OF CHRISTINA V.

Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Mohave County No. S8015MH201300017 The Honorable Lee Frank Jantzen Judge

Mohave County Legal Defender's Office, Diane S. McCoy Counsel for Appellant

Mohave County Attorney's Office, Dolores Milkie Counsel for Mohave County

Presiding Judge Maurice Portley and Judge Kent E. Cattani joined.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

John C. Gemmill, Judge

¶1 Appellant appeals the trial court's order for treatment entered after the court found by clear and convincing evidence that Appellant was, as a result of a mental disorder, persistently or acutely disabled and a danger to self. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the treatment order but vacate the finding that Appellant was a danger to self.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 On June 12, 2013, Mahamed Ramadan, M.D., filed a Petition for Court-Ordered Evaluation alleging reasonable cause to believe Appellant was a danger to self, a danger to others, and persistently or acutely disabled. The petition stated that Appellant was unwilling to undergo voluntary evaluation and needed supervision, care, and treatment. Additionally, Appellant's sister filed an application for Involuntary Evaluation, which was attached to the petition. The trial court ordered Appellant to undergo custodial evaluation.

¶3 On June 17, 2013, Laurence Seltzer, M.D., filed a Petition for Court Ordered Treatment ("Petition") alleging that, as a result of a mental disorder, Appellant was a danger to self and was persistently or acutely disabled. The Petition was based on, and included, two affidavits submitted by Dr. Seltzer and Dr. Zegarra, M.D., as well as a social work evaluation completed by Carol Marquis-Breckenridge, MSW/ACSW/ LMSW. The Petition stated that the appropriate and available court-ordered treatment for Appellant was combined inpatient and outpatient treatment.

¶4 The trial court held a hearing on the Petition in which Dr. Seltzer, Dr. Zegarra, Appellant's sister ("Sister"), Appellant's mother ("Mother"), and Appellant testified. Sister testified that Appellant thought people were coming after her and, on occasion, shouted at strangers Appellant believed were conspiring against her. According to Sister, Appellant believed there were implants throughout her body that connected to wires and sent vocalizations to her. Appellant indicated that if she were to talk about the conspiracy against her or about something she should not discuss, she would be zapped by wires. Appellant tried to remove the implants herself, and on at least one occasion, tried to remove an implant by reaching down her throat. On another occasion, Appellant attempted to remove a cyst in her wrist with a syringe and claimed she found a piece of an implant in the process.

¶5 Mother testified that Appellant thought people were watching her and that she heard voices from both objects and people. Appellant believed people were talking about her, including her neighbors and people sitting behind Appellant at church. Mother also testified that Appellant thought there were implants inside her body. On cross examination, Mother testified that Appellant once told her she probed her children for implants.

¶6 Both Dr. Seltzer and Dr. Zegarra testified about their evaluations of Appellant. Dr. Seltzer evaluated Appellant and determined she suffered from a delusional mental disorder. According to Dr. Seltzer, Appellant was persistently or acutely disabled, and because of her delusions, she was unable to function adequately. Dr. Seltzer concluded that if Appellant took medication, she could receive outpatient treatment. Because Appellant would not agree to take medication, inpatient treatment for 180 days was appropriate.

¶7 Dr. Seltzer explained that a mental disorder left untreated would create a "substantial probability that [Appellant] would suffer or continue to suffer severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical harm that significantly impairs judgment, reason, behavior or capacity to recognize reality." Dr. Seltzer explained the advantages and disadvantages of treatment to Appellant, but because Appellant did not believe she needed treatment, she would not agree to voluntary treatment.

¶8 Dr. Zegarra independently evaluated Appellant and testified that Appellant's mental disorder made her persistently and acutely disabled. Dr. Zegarra stated that Appellant was previously diagnosed with psychotic disorder and currently suffered from delusions of paranoia. Additionally, Dr. Zegarra testified that, if left untreated, Appellant would continue to suffer harm that would significantly impair her judgment, reason, behavior, and capacity to recognize reality. Although Dr. Zegarra had explained to Appellant the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives to treatment, ...


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