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In the Matter of:

November 13, 2012

IN THE MATTER OF: C.R., RESPONDENT AND APPELLANT.


APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DI 12-0006 Honorable Gregory R. Todd, Presiding Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Beth Baker

Submitted on Briefs: September 4, 2012

Decided: November 13, 2012

Filed: Clerk

Justice Beth Baker delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 C.R. appeals the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court's order involuntarily committing him to the Montana State Hospital (MSH) and authorizing his involuntary medication. We affirm.

¶2 We address the following issues on appeal:

¶3 1. Whether the District Court improperly disregarded C.R.'s hearing testimony.

¶4 2. Whether the District Court's failure to offer C.R. a court-appointed friend violated C.R.'s statutory or constitutional rights.

¶5 3. Whether C.R. received ineffective assistance of counsel.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

¶6 The District Court involuntarily committed and authorized the involuntary medication of thirty-year-old C.R. after it determined that he suffered from a mental disorder and that his condition met the statutory criteria for involuntary commitment.

¶7 Prior to the commitment proceedings, C.R. resided with his brother, L.R., at L.R.'s residence. According to L.R., on January 8, 2012, C.R. exhibited "bizarre and erratic behavior at the residence, yelling uncontrollably at no one in particular," and L.R. contacted the Billings Clinic Psychiatric Center to check on C.R.'s welfare. Law enforcement transported C.R. to the Billings Clinic Emergency Room, where he became "acutely aggressive" during his mental health evaluation. As a result of these behaviors, Dr. Faraz Masood, M.D., a psychiatric hospitalist at the Billings Clinic Psychiatric Center, requested that the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office file a petition for involuntary commitment. The County Attorney's Office filed a petition on January 9, 2012.

¶8 After reviewing the petition, the District Court found probable cause to believe that C.R. "may suffer from a mental disorder and may need to be committed because of his mental disorder." The District Court appointed counsel to represent C.R., ordered him detained at the Billings Clinic Psychiatric Center pending resolution of the petition, and set an initial hearing on the petition for January 10, 2012. After being advised by counsel of his rights regarding the petition, C.R. waived the initial hearing. The District Court appointed a professional person, Dr. Masood, to evaluate C.R. and set an evidentiary hearing for January 11, 2012.

¶9 On January 10, 2012, Dr. Masood reported to the court that, since his admission to the Psychiatric Center, C.R. "remained labile, aggressive and hostile with disorganized behavior and thoughts." Dr. Masood determined that C.R. suffered from severe psychosis, a mental disorder, and that he needed to be committed because he "cannot adequately care for his needs" and was "an imminent threat to himself." In Dr. Masood's opinion, there was "no recourse but for placement at the state hospital in Warm Springs."

ΒΆ10 During the January 11, 2012 evidentiary hearing on the petition, the District Court heard testimony from L.R., Dr. Masood, and C.R. L.R. stated that his brother was not mentally well, appeared to be a risk to himself or others, and currently was unable to care for himself. L.R. was "[a] hundred percent" in support of committing C.R. Dr. Masood agreed that C.R. "poses a risk of imminent harm to himself or others," due to psychosis coupled with schizophrenia. Dr. Masood stated that C.R. had shown little improvement since his admission to the Psychiatric Center, where he had refused medication, spit on staff, and required physical restraints on several occasions to prevent violent behavior. The hospital had to place C.R. in restraints three times and in seclusion twice during his short stay, which Masood testified was unusual. According to Masood, C.R. also continued to experience auditory hallucinations and delusions of paranoia, exhibit manic and impulsive behavior, and lack "insight and judgment . . . to be able to care for himself." Masood ...


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