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Court rejects usual attacks to 51 extension, medication order and affirms

Racine County v. C.B., 2023AP2018-FT, 3/20/24, District II (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

In a factually-specific appeal of a recommitment order, COA rejects all of C.B.’s arguments and affirms.

“Banks” has been under a Chapter 51 order since 2015, following an NGI verdict in a criminal case in which he apparently fled from police in a stolen car. (¶2). This appeal stems from a 2023 recommitment hearing. (Id.).

Banks first attacks the circuit court’s order as being defective under D.J.W.(¶20). He also challenges the overall sufficiency of the evidence. (Id.). As in its recent G.M.M. decision, COA does not analyze these as discrete legal claims and provides a combined analysis of the D.J.W./sufficiency arguments. Ultimately, COA is unpersuaded and concludes that, while “inartful,” the court’s comments were legally sufficient, especially when considered in context of other record evidence (such as the doctor’s report and the contemporaneous written order). (¶¶21-23). In essence, COA is satisfied that the court’s comments about the dangerousness of Banks’s fleeing conduct from a decade ago, along with references to the recommitment standard–when connected with this other record evidence–“leave no doubt that the court’s determination that Banks is dangerous is grounded in both § 51.20(1)(a)2.a. & b., ‘as viewed through the lens of § 51.20(1)(am).'” (¶24). And, while Banks criticizes the court for not providing sufficient detail about that dated conduct in choosing to rely on it for this extension order, COA finds that the court said enough in discussing Banks’s high-speed chase, as that “conduct constitutes evidence of an attempt at serious bodily harm” under § 51.20(1)(a)2.a. “as well as ‘violent behavior'” under § 51.20(1)(a)2.b. (¶25).

As to the medication order, COA believes that the doctor provided a sufficiently reasonable explanation of the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives to the particular medication at issue. (¶¶31-34). Although Banks tries to argue that certain components of that explanation were nevertheless deficient, COA is uniformly unimpressed with what it views as undeveloped or unpreserved arguments. (¶¶33-34). And, as to whether he was incompetent to refuse that medication, COA approvingly cites to Melanie L. for the proposition that Banks’s inability to recognize or acknowledge his own mental illness means it is not possible for him to make the required “connection” under § 51.61(1)(g)4.b. between the risks, benefits, and alternatives to medication and his own situation. (¶38).

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