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County met burden to prove need for involuntary treatment order for prisoner

Winnebago County v. Martin W., 2014AP1351, District 2, 2/11/15 (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

In this case involving a ch. 51 proceeding involving a state prison inmate, the County met its burden under § 51.20(1)(ar) to prove by clear and convincing evidence that (1) appropriate less restrictive forms of treatment have been attempted unsuccessfully and (2) Martin was fully informed about his treatment needs.

As to the first requirement, the County presented evidence that medication was a necessary component of treatment of Martin’s bipolar disorder, and his treating psychiatrist testified Martin had been given the chance to voluntarily take medication but had failed to take his medication at therapeutic dosage levels. “This was sufficient to support a finding that appropriate less restrictive forms of treatment, i.e., voluntary medication, had been attempted with Martin and that this attempt had been unsuccessful.” (¶6).

The County didn’t have to prove it had tried treatment other than medication. “Section 51.20(1)(ar) does not require that alternatives to a particular medication or treatment be tried prior to commitment for involuntary treatment. Nor does it require that the form of treatment tried prior to involuntary treatment be the least restrictive form of treatment available.” (¶5).

As to the second requirement, the testimony established that Martin’s treating psychiatrist had attempted to explain Martin’s different treatment needs to him and offer counseling. While Martin interrupted such explanations, this was sufficient evidence that Martin was informed of his treatment needs. (¶7).

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