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Fear of “decompensation” and recurrence of dangerous behavior dooms challenge to recommitment

Sauk County D.H.S. v. R.K.M., 2023AP912, 10/12/23, District 4 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

R.K.M. raised a variety of arguments seeking to challenge the often cited “decompensation” theory for extending a chapter 51 commitment where the subject has (1) made substantial progress while under commitment, (2) engaged in no recent dangerous behavior, and (3) is generally compliant with medication and treatment provided under commitment. However, his challenge runs into the buzzsaw of fears of decompensation and “recurrence of his symptoms.” (Op., ¶¶6-7).

To be fair, the county introduced evidence that R.K.M. had recently missed “a couple doses” of his medication and recently had to be “convinced” to take his medication. Further, while R.K.M. told his case manager he would continue to take his medication even if he was no longer under a commitment, the case manager “had concerns” that he would nevertheless stop taking his medication if not committed and a psychiatrist expressed a similar concern based on R.K.M.’s statements that he does not believe he is mentally ill or in need of medication. R.K.M.’s history apparently also included prior “command hallucinations” and “suicidal behaviors.”

Moreover, while R.K.M.’s arguments raise the concern over whether an individual can ever escape their historically dangerous behavior, the extension at issue here followed two years worth of stipulated commitments and extensions. (Op., ¶2). Thus, compared to the more extreme versions of the fear of decompensation Chapter 51 litigators frequently see, R.K.M.’s case seems to present a relatively less severe example.


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