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Recommitment and involuntary medication orders affirmed

Shawano County v. Anne R., 2011AP2040, District 3, 12/28/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Anne R.: Donna L. Hintze, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

Anne R. challenges the extension of her mental health commitment / involuntary medication order, on the ground the County failed to prove she would be a proper subject for commitment if treatment were withdrawn, § 51.20(1)(am). The court rejects the argument, citing opinion testimony at the extension hearing that if treatment were withdrawn her behavior would deteriorate.

¶9        To the extent Anne argues the opinion itself was insufficient to meet the County’s burden, we disagree.  The court was entitled to rely on Coates’ opinion in its determination to extend the mental commitment.  See Wis. Stat. § 805.17(2) (factual and credibility determinations are for the fact finder).  Anne offers no legal authority that the circuit court’s reliance on this opinion was insufficient.  See State v. Pettit, 171 Wis. 2d 627, 646, 492 N.W.2d 633 (Ct. App. 1992) (We need not consider arguments unsupported by reference to legal authority.).  Nevertheless, we observe that, in addition to his opinion, Coates testified that Anne continues to experience delusions and paranoia.  He explained that if treatment were withdrawn Anne’s behavior would deteriorate.  In his written report he said that the deterioration would be “to a point where she could no longer take care of herself or properly socialize.”  We conclude the evidence sufficiently supports the court’s determination that if treatment were withdrawn, Anne would be a proper subject for commitment.

The extension hearing evidence also supported an involuntary medication order, § 51.60(1)(g)4.:

¶11      Anne’s argument focuses on whether the County sufficiently proved she was incompetent to refuse medication under Wis. Stat. § 51.61(1)(g)4.b.  Anne argues the County failed to meet its burden of proof because it only introduced evidence showing she lacks insight into her mental illness.  Specifically, she asserts the County failed to establish that the “lack of insight interfered with her ability to make an informed choice regarding medications.”

¶12      We disagree.  Coates did not merely testify that Anne lacked insight into her mental illness.  He explained in his written report that he recommended an involuntary medication order because he found Anne not “competent to make an informed consent[2] regarding the advantages and disadvantages of accepting treatment by psychotropic medications.”  He then testified that it was Anne’s lack of insight into her mental illness that formed the basis of his involuntary medication recommendation.  This evidence sufficiently supports the court’s determination that Anne is incompetent to refuse medication.


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