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County presented sufficient evidence to support involuntary medication order; recommitment deadline explained

Portage County v. Jeffrey J.T., 2013AP2481, District 4, 6/26/14 (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity

The report of the examining physician was sufficient to show that the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives to medication were explained to Jeffrey, the subject of a ch. 51 recommitment proceeding, as required by § 51.61(1)(g)4. and Outagamie County v. Melanie L., 2013 WI 67, ¶¶91, 97, 349 Wis. 2d 148, 833 N.W.2d 607.

At a hearing to extend Jeffrey’s ch. 51 commitment, Ashok Seshadri, the County’s sole witness, testified he did not explain to Jeffrey the alternative treatments available to him and that, instead of explaining the advantages and disadvantages of Jeffrey’s medication to him, he explained to Jeffrey how he (Seshadri) believed the medication was helping Jeffrey or was not needed. (¶12). Even if that’s true, the court of appeals concludes there’s other credible evidence in the record supporting the circuit court’s conclusion that the required information was imparted to Jeffrey. (¶¶13-14). That evidence is Seshadri’s “Report of Physician,” which stated:

I have explained to [Jeffrey] the advantages and disadvantages and alternatives to accepting medication or treatment. Due to [Jeffrey’s] condition, [Jeffrey] is incapable of expressing an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages and alternatives to accepting this particular medication or treatment, or is substantially incapable of applying an understanding of the advantages, disadvantages and alternatives to his [] condition in order to make an informed choice as to whether to accept or refuse medication or treatment, with the result being that [Jeffrey] is not competent to refuse medication or treatment due to his [] condition. (¶13).

The court also rejects Jeffrey’s claim the circuit court lost competency. The year-long 2012 recommitment order was filed on June 4, 2012; therefore, Jeffrey argued, it expired on June 4, 2013, and the circuit court lacked competency to hold the extension hearing, and order another extension, on June 17, 2013. But while the 2012 recommitment order was entered on June 4, 2012, it extended Jeffrey’s commitment for a period of twelve months to expire on June 18, 2013, because it extended the prior recommitment order specifying that Jeffrey was recommitted until June 18, 2012. (¶¶2-3, 6). Thus, “[t]he 2012 recommitment order expired on June 18, 2013, not June 4 as Jeffrey maintains. This is consistent with Wis. Stat. § 51.20(13)(g)1. and 3., which provide that those commitment orders subsequent to and consecutive to an individual’s first commitment order shall be for a period not to exceed one year and shall continue the prior commitment.” (¶7).

It’s difficult, to say the least, to square the sufficiency analysis here with the one in Waukesha County v. Kathleen H., 2014AP90 (Wis. Ct. App. June 26, 2014) (unpublished), since Seshadri’s report (at least as quoted by the court (¶13)) merely parrots the statutory language without providing details of the information Jeffrey was given, making it no less conclusory than the evidence that was found insufficient in Kathleen H.

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