IN THE MATTER OF: K.P., Respondent and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: March 1, 2017
Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County
of Missoula, Cause No. DI 16-49 Honorable John W. Larson,
Appellant: Robin A. Meguire, Attorney at Law, Great Falls,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F.
Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Kirsten H. Pabst, Missoula County Attorney, Jessica Simmons,
Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana
Appellant, K.P., appeals the order of the Fourth Judicial
District Court, Missoula County, involuntarily committing him
to the Montana State Hospital (MSH) in Warm Springs. We
reverse and address the following issue on appeal:
the involuntary commitment order violate the requirements of
§ 53-21-127(8), MCA?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On May 26, 2016, the Missoula County Attorney's Office
petitioned the District Court for a determination that K.P.
suffered from a mental disorder requiring involuntary
commitment, based on a mental health evaluation that
concluded K.P. was suffering from Schizoaffective Disorder.
Earlier that day, K.P. had been involuntarily admitted to
Saint Patrick Hospital after committing, as described in the
report, "acts of vandalism at his local mental health
center and threatening to kill people." At the hospital,
K.P. struck one of the nurses. The report advised that K.P.
was "well known" to the hospital and, compared to
earlier evaluations by the same doctor, was "well below
his baseline" and "presently in the midst of a
Based on the report, the District Court determined that there
was probable cause that K.P. suffered from a mental disorder,
and that "there is an imminent threat of injury to
himself or to others, or he is substantially unable to care
for himself." The District Court ordered evaluation,
treatment, and detention for K.P., as well as initiation of
commitment proceedings and the appointment of counsel.
On June 2, 2016, the District Court conducted a commitment
hearing. The only witness was Thomas Hodgetts, a Licensed
Clinical Social Worker, who testified that K.P. was suffering
from schizophrenia and was an imminent threat to others, and
recommended he be committed to MSH for three months. At the
conclusion of the hearing, the District Court remanded K.P.
to the custody of the Missoula County Sheriff. Then, outside
the presence of K.P., the District Court stated from the
THE COURT: So based on the testimony presented, the court
finds K.P. to be suffering from schizophrenia, that he is in
need of commitment, and the least restrictive placement is
the Montana State Hospital.
The court further finds that treatment can be successful at
the state hospital, and it's likely that his stay there
will be fairly limited, and that when he comes back to the
community certainly his ongoing treatment and medication