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Original commitment based on dangerousness under 51.20(1)(a)2.b upheld

Outagamie County v. Lorna G., 2011AP1662, District 3, 10/25/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Lorna G.: Eileen A. Hirsch, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

Although the trial court’s reference to “potential” for harm was an “imprecise summary” of the §51.20(1)(a)2b test for commitment (“substantial probability of physical harm”), this articulation “was not a deviation from the” correct standard. Moreover, the trial court’s finding that Lorna G. was actually dangerous passes muster, ¶¶8-11. The evidence was sufficient to support this finding, against an argument that Lorna’s behavior didn’t involve “extreme force”:

¶13      We disagree.  Here, Huebner testified Lorna struck a patio window.  She also hit Huebner’s hand and pushed over a chair that would have fallen had a table not been in the way.  Lorna then grabbed Huebner’s hand, squeezed it, and would not let go.  Lorna began stomping through the facility and other residents had to be moved to prevent Lorna from running into them.  Lorna also hit the walls in the facility.  When Pynenberg arrived, Lorna “flung herself on her bed” and started kicking.  She was “throwing herself” around and repeatedly told Pynenberg that she wanted to harm people at the group home.  Although Huebner conceded Lorna’s behavior caused no injuries, the circuit court determined Lorna’s behavior “could be construed [as] she was acting out violently.”  The court then found Lorna was dangerous.  Based on Lorna’s hitting, kicking, hand-squeezing, stomping, body throwing, and threats to harm the other residents, we agree with the court’s determination that Lorna was dangerous.

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