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Evidence presented at commitment hearing sufficient to prove dangerousness

Outagamie County DHHS v. M.D.H., 2020AP86, District 3, 7/13/21 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

The evidence at M.D.H.’s final commitment hearing proved he was dangerous under § 51.20(1)(a)2.d.

Under that statute, an individual is dangerous if he or she has engaged in recent acts or omissions that show that, because of mental illness, he or she is “unable to satisfy basic needs for nourishment, medical care, shelter, or safety” and that without prompt and adequate treatment “a substantial probability exists that death, serious physical injury, serious physical debilitation, or serious physical disease will imminently ensue….”

Here, the report and testimony of a court appointed examiner, the circuit court’s assessment of M.D.H.’s demeanor when testifying at the commitment hearing, and the remainder of the record provide clear and convincing evidence M.D.H. met this standard. Among other things, the examiner’s report noted M.D.H.’s family related he was unable to pay bills, care for his property, or maintain personal hygiene, and that he expressed delusional thoughts (¶9). Also, the court noted M.D.H.’s demeanor on the stand, including his “confusing” presentation, had “disorganized” speech, and wasn’t “completely clear in his thoughts.” (¶10).

The final hearing in this case occurred well before Langlade County v. D.J.W., 2020 WI 41, so the court searched the record for facts to apply to the dangerousness standard to be proven. (¶7 n.4). And, while M.D.H’s commitment order expired some time ago, this appeal is not moot due to the acting collateral consequence of the continuing firearms possession ban. (¶6 n.3).

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