Mental Commitment – Finding of Dangerousness

Trempealeau County v. Charles O., 2011AP2794, District 3, 5/1/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Charles O.: William E. Schmaal, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

The court rejects Charles O.’s argument that the evidence fell short of the “fifth-standard” showing of dangerousness, § 51.20(1)(a)2.e., State v. Dennis H., 2002 WI 104, ¶14, 255 Wis. 2d 359, 647 N.W.2d 851:

¶11 When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we will not reverse unless, after “considering all credible evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion is made, [we determine] there is no credible evidence to sustain a finding in favor of such party.” Wis. Stat. § 805.14(1). There must be “such a complete failure of proof that the verdict must have been based on speculation.” Nieuwendorp v. American Family Ins. Co., 191 Wis. 2d 462, 472, 529 N.W.2d 594 (1995).

¶12 We conclude the evidence sufficiently shows there is a “substantial probability that … if left untreated, [Charles] will … suffer severe mental, emotional, or physical harm that will result in the loss of the … ability to function independently in the community or the loss of cognitive or volitional control over … thoughts or actions.” See Wis. Stat. § 51.20(1)(a)2.e. Here, both doctors testified Charles was experiencing paranoia regarding a family conspiracy and needed medication. Charles’ family testified that since he stopped taking his medication, he lost a “dramatic” amount of weight, quit all of his jobs, and has become withdrawn. Although Ibrahim only testified that Charles “may not” be able to function independently in the community, he also warned that if Charles’ “thinking process is dominated by delusional paranoia … that will lead to deterioration in his activity and self-care[.]” Moreover, Stress opined that, given Charles’ current mental state, he is not safe and needed to be in a group home until he is stabilized on his medication.