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In re N.A.

Supreme Court of Montana

September 10, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: N.A., Respondent and Appellant.

Submitted on Briefs: June 19, 2013

APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. DDI 2012-61 Honorable James P. Reynolds, Presiding Judge

For Appellant Jeanne M. Walker; Hagen & Walker, PLLC; Billings, Montana

For Appellee Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General; Mardell Ployhar, Assistant Attorney General; Helena, Montana, Leo J. Gallagher, Lewis and Clark County Attorney; Helena, Montana

Michael E Wheat Justice

¶1 Respondent and appellant N.A. was committed to Montana State Hospital for 90 days by a District Court order. N.A. now appeals this order. We affirm.

STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES

¶2 The issues on appeal are as follows:

¶3 Did N.A.'s participation in his own defense reduce his attorney to mere "standby counsel" in violation of § 53-21-119, MCA?

¶4 Was N.A. deprived of procedural due process when a professional evaluator failed to submit a written report to the District Court and both parties?

¶5 Did the District Court correctly deny N.A.'s untimely motion for a jury trial?

¶6 Did the District Court abuse its discretion by denying N.A. a continuance?

¶7 Was N.A.'s counsel ineffective?

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

ΒΆ8 Respondent N.A. has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After some treatment at the Phoenix House, professionals there became concerned that he was a danger to himself and others. The State instituted an involuntary civil commitment proceeding. At his initial appearance, N.A. was informed of his right to a jury trial and the subsequent hearing that would occur, which would include a prehearing mental health evaluation. N.A. informed the District Court that he did not want evaluation by professionals who had evaluated him in ...


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