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Evidence sufficient to support Ch. 51 commitment

Kenosha County v. CMM, 2015AP504, 9/23/15, District 2 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity

Like many Chapter 51 appeals, this one didn’t challenge any legal standards. It argued that the evidence in this particular case did not meet the test for “dangerousness” in §51.20(1)(a)2.d. The court of appeals found the evidence more than sufficient.

¶8 C.M.M.’s acts demonstrate such impaired judgment that there is a substantial probability of physical impairment or injury to herself. Patel testified that C.M.M. is unable to carry out codirected meaningful conversation, her thoughts are disorganized, and she displays paranoia. C.M.M.’s mood is labile; at one moment she can be sobbing, crying, or wailing and the next moment laughing. Her capacity to recognize reality is grossly impaired such that she would not be able to determine if she was having hallucinations. Her mental disorder grossly impairs her behavior. Before one detention, she came to ask help from her social worker, but arrived barefoot. When asked why she was not taking her medication, she responded that it was locked in her car, along with her keys. Patel testified “there’s clearly no problem solving.” She displays paranoia, but is unable to recognize the paranoia. Patel opined that C.M.M. was unable to meet the ordinary demands of life. Patel told the court she does not believe C.M.M. is capable of recognizing her condition and seeking help. Patel noted that C.M.M. had required three hospitalizations within the previous six to eight weeks and was “barely able to remain in the community.” When asked whether living at home would present a substantial probability that C.M.M. could die or suffer serious injury or be debilitated such that it would seriously affect her health, Patel responded, “I would be concerned about her safety, about her judgment, about her concentration. She is so impaired she’s likely to leave the heating parts or leave the stove on or cause some burns and all that. Yeah, I would be concerned.” Patel also noted that C.M.M. has been seeking benzodiazepines and abusing cannabis, and has tested positive for cocaine. Patel noted in her report that C.M.M. was “totally noncompliant with medications and this combined with the substance abuse, is worsening her mental condition.” She noted that C.M.M. “has been repeatedly requiring attention from the law enforcement or care providers and due to the nature of her mental illness she cannot be adequately stabilized in the community.” Ultimately, Patel concluded that, because of C.M.M.’s mental illness, C.M.M. “is unable to meet the ordinary demands of life, requiring management in a structured setting to meet her daily needs.” Patel recommended commitment and court-ordered psychotropic medication, opining that C.M.M. was incompetent to refuse such medication. Dave echoed Patel’s recommendations.

¶9 Several recent acts show that C.M.M. is “unable to satisfy basic needs … without … treatment so that a substantial probability exists that death [or] serious physical injury … will imminently ensue unless the individual receives prompt and adequate treatment.” WIS. STAT. § 51.20(1)(a)2.d. When picked up on an emergency detention, she was walking over broken glass with bare feet. She violated her hold open agreement by using illicit drugs and refusing to take her prescribed medications. She has admitted to suicidal ideation. Again and again, C.M.M. has shown through her refusal to comply with treatment that she is putting herself at risk for death or serious injury if she does not get treatment.

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