Mental Health Law
Nov. 22, 2019
- Whether the trial court erred in renewing the respondent’s conditional discharge mental health treatment plan
The respondent appealed an order granting a petition for involuntary admission to New Hampshire hospital so that his conditional discharge plan could continue. The petition had been filed before expiration of the existing conditional discharge and, after hearing, the trial court granted renewal for another five year term.
On appeal, the Court held that the petitioner met its burden of demonstrating that “the respondent is currently in such condition, as a result of mental illness, that “a prescribed regimen of medical, psychiatric, or psychological care or treatment is necessary to prevent…a potentially serious likelihood of danger to himself or to others…’” The Court further explained that, contrary to initial involuntary admission proceedings, renewal “’may be based on a pattern of prior action and testimony relating to the question whether or not any cure…has been effectuated.’” No showing of “current dangerousness” or of a “recent dangerous act” is required in a renewal proceeding as the focus is on future dangerousness.
Based on testimony of two mental health professionals, testimony regarding the defendant taking himself off his medications and not believing that he needed them, and the defendant devolving into assaultive and delusional behavior when not medicated, there was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable trier of facts could find by clear and convincing evidence that the standard for renewal of the conditional discharge orders was met. Though the trial court’s application of the standard for initial involuntary admission was not correct for these proceedings, the Court found it could uphold the order based on alternative grounds because the standard applicable to the renewal proceedings was supported by the evidence. Without holding that the respondent was entitled to application of the least restrictive treatment option, the Court also found, nevertheless, that the evidence sufficiently supported the five year renewal period.
Accordingly, the Court upheld the order renewing the respondent’s conditional discharge.
Boynton Waldron Boleac Woodman & Scott, P.A. of Portsmouth (Christine W. Casa on the brief), for the petitioner.
Casassa Law Office of Hampton (Lisa J. Bellanti on the brief), for the respondent.