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Ch. 51 commitment extension and medication order upheld

Winnebago County v. B.C., 2018AP846-FT, District 2, 9/5/18 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

B.C. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to extend his commitment and involuntarily medicate him. His challenge fails.

B.C. is a prison inmate, so his commitment is governed by § 51.20(1)(ar), so instead of dangerousness the petitioner has to show that “appropriate less restrictive forms of treatment have been attempted … and have been unsuccessful” and that the inmate “has been fully informed about his or her treatment needs, the mental health services available to him or her and his or her rights under this chapter and … has had an opportunity to discuss his or her needs, the services available to him or her and his or her rights” with a licensed physician or psychologist.

At the hearing to extend B.C.’s commitment the court heard the testimony of a psychologist and B.C. himself. The psychologist testified B.C. had schizophrenia and voluntary treatment hadn’t worked. B.C. denied he was mentally ill and so doesn’t believe he needs medication, though he also admitted he needed help organizing his thinking, which could be accomplished without medication. He acknowledged that the use of medications had been explained to him, but said they were being given to him because of his “immaturity.” (¶¶2-3). Based on this record it wasn’t clearly erroneous for the circuit court to find there was a basis for extending the commitment and that B.C. was not capable of making an informed choice about medication and treatment. (¶¶5-9).

B.C. attempted to raise an issue about whether he’d been advised of the advantages and disadvantages of medication in a “timely” manner, as required by Outagamie Cty. v. Melanie L., 2013 WI 67, ¶67, 349 Wis. 2d 148, 833 N.W.2d 607, but this doesn’t go anywhere. The psychologist testified he had talked to B.C. about medications “recently,” but wasn’t otherwise questioned about the timing of the discussion vis-a-vis the hearing, and B.C. doesn’t develop an argument that, whatever “recently” meant here, it wasn’t sufficiently timely under Melanie L. (¶8 n.5).

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