Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re MH2015-003266

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

September 8, 2016

IN RE MH2015-003266

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. MH2015-003266 The Honorable Barbara L. Spencer, Judge Pro Tempore

          Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix By Anne C. Longo, Joseph Branco Counsel for Appellee

          Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office, Phoenix By Anne H. Phillips Counsel for Appellant

          Judge Kent E. Cattani delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Michael J. Brown and Judge Maurice Portley joined.

          OPINION

          CATTANI, Judge

         ¶1 Patient appeals the superior court's order committing him for involuntary mental health treatment. Patient argues that, because he did not receive a statutorily required physical examination as part of his psychiatric evaluations, the involuntary treatment order is invalid. In light of a 2012 statutory change authorizing a third-party to complete (or attempt) the physical examination portion of the psychiatric evaluation, and for reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In March 2015, Patient accosted several neighbors, kicked in several doors, and took money from one neighbor's home; the neighbors and responding police officers noted that Patient seemed confused or mentally disturbed. He was arrested and charged with burglary, trespass, and disorderly conduct. The next month, while in jail on those charges, Patient attacked several detention officers without provocation, inflicting concussions, facial fractures, and other injuries. Patient was charged with multiple counts of assault and aggravated assault arising from this incident. During the criminal proceedings, Patient was found incompetent to stand trial. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 13-4517; Ariz. R. Crim. P. 11.[1] The superior court ordered a Title 36 psychiatric evaluation, which led to these civil commitment proceedings.

         ¶3 Patient was evaluated by two psychiatrists, each of whom offered a probable diagnosis of schizophrenia and concluded that, because of the mental disorder, Patient was a danger to others and persistently or acutely disabled. During their separate in-person evaluations, both doctors noted that Patient was largely non-verbal, although he seemed to understand them and answered some questions. Although he denied having hallucinations, Patient was laughing to himself and seemed to be responding to internal stimuli throughout the interviews.

         ¶4 The physicians also reviewed records from Patient's Rule 11 evaluation, which described Patient's history of two voluntary hospitalizations for mental health treatment in the preceding two years. The records suggested that medication helped alleviate his symptoms, but that he did not take the medication consistently after leaving inpatient treatment. Both doctors noted that Patient had refused a physical examination (one clarified that he had refused in the "previous facility"), but also concluded that neither available records nor in-person observation suggested that Patient's psychiatric symptoms arose from a physical cause.

          ¶5 One of the doctors then filed a petition for court-ordered treatment, attaching affidavits from both psychiatrists. After an evidentiary hearing, the superior court found Patient to be a danger to others and persistently or acutely disabled due to a mental disorder, and ordered combined inpatient and outpatient treatment for no more than 365 days, with inpatient treatment not to exceed 180 days.

         ¶6 Patient timely appealed, and we have jurisdiction under A.R.S. § 36-546.01. Although Patient's appeal is arguably moot as the treatment order has since expired, we nevertheless consider the appeal because it presents an issue of state-wide importance that is capable of repetition and would otherwise evade review. See In re MH-2008-000867, 225 Ariz. 178, 179, ¶ 1 (2010).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶7 Patient argues the superior court erred because he was involuntarily committed without a statutorily required physical examination as part of his psychiatric evaluation. Because involuntary treatment strongly implicates a patient's liberty interests, "statutory requirements must be strictly construed and followed." In re MH 2008-002596,223 Ariz. 32, 35, ¶ 12 (App. 2009). We review issues of statutory interpretation de novo. In re MH 2001-001139,203 Ariz. 351, 353, ΒΆ 8 (App. 2002). But we review the facts underlying the civil commitment order in the light most favorable to upholding the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.