IN THE MATTER OF: C.S.-S., Respondent and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: April 11, 2018
District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and
For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DI 16-11 Honorable James
A. Haynes, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Kristen L.
Peterson, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal
S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Howard F.
Recht, Deputy County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
C.S.-S. appeals the written Order of Commitment issued by the
District Court on July 19, 2016. We affirm.
On July 18, 2016, the State petitioned for C.S.-S.'s
involuntary commitment based on a report from Sylvia Mahr, a
licensed clinical social worker and mental health
professional at the Western Montana Mental Health Center.
Mahr reported C.S.-S. to be psychotic and delusional and
documented examples of his delusions. Mahr noted C.S.-S. to
have had increasing legal problems, having been jailed three
times in July 2016 and exhibiting delusional behavior while
at the jail. She diagnosed C.S.-S. as having bipolar
disorder, an alcohol use disorder, a stimulant disorder, and
a cannabis use disorder, and expressed that without
interventions he would continue to deteriorate and remain a
risk of harm to self or others.
At hearing, Mahr's report was entered into evidence and
she testified regarding C.S.-S.'s condition. She found
C.S.-S. to be delusional with entrenched delusions and also
testified he was "having visual hallucinations of ghosts
and demons." She found his judgment, insight, and
impulse control to be severely compromised and testified he
was unable to meet his daily needs, care for himself, or live
on his own. Although she testified he has had periods of
stability when on medication, when he is not taking his
medication, as was the case when the petition was filed, he
deteriorates and presents an imminent threat of injury to
himself and others. Although she initially believed a 14-day
diversion to be appropriate, at hearing she testified that
finding the right medication to stabilize C.S.-S. was of
utmost importance and that Montana State Hospital (MSH) was
in the best position to do this.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the District Court found
C.S.-S. suffered from a mental disorder, primarily a bipolar
disorder, along with an alcohol use disorder, a stimulant use
disorder, a tobacco use disorder, and a cannabis use
disorder. The District Court found C.S.-S. to exhibit
psychotic behaviors and to have active delusions which in his
unmedicated state made him an imminent threat to himself and
others such that commitment to MSH was the least restrictive
placement to treat him. Following hearing, the District Court
issued its Order of Commitment on July 19, 2016. This appeal
followed. ¶6 We review a district court's commitment
order to determine whether its findings of fact are clearly
erroneous and its conclusions of law are correct. A finding
of fact is clearly erroneous only if not supported by
substantial credible evidence, the district court
misapprehended the effect of the evidence, or this Court has
a definite and firm conviction upon review of the record that
the district court otherwise erred. In re C.K., 2017
MT 69, ¶ 10, 387 Mont. 127, 391 P.3d 735 (citation
omitted). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the prevailing party when determining whether substantial
credible evidence supports the district court's findings.
In re C.V., 2016 MT 307, ¶ 15, 385 Mont. 429,
384 P.3d 1048 (citation omitted).
On appeal, C.S.-S. does not contest that: he suffers from a
bipolar mental health disorder; he is unable to care for
himself or provide for his basic needs; he is an imminent
danger to himself or others; and he should be committed.
Instead, he asserts commitment at MSH was not the least
restrictive commitment setting for his treatment and that he
should have instead been committed to a facility such as West
We have reviewed the evidence of record and viewing it in the
light most favorable to the State conclude the District Court
did not abuse its discretion in finding commitment to MSH to
be the least restrictive commitment setting for C.S.-S. to
receive treatment to stabilize his mental health condition.
We further conclude the District Court's conclusion of
law is correct.
C.S.-S. also asserts a variety of other purported errors of
the District Court. First, C.S.-S. asserts the District
Court's commitment order contains unsupported or illegal
provisions in violation of §§ 53-21-180, -181, and
-183, MCA. C.S.-S. confuses the requirements under three
different discharge statutes and misapprehends the discharge
provisions of the District Court's commitment order.
Depending on how the discharge occurs, different requirements
exist under §§ 53-21-180, -181, and -183, MCA. The
District Court's commitment order was not illegal or
inconsistent given the differing discharge provisions
provided for in §§ 53-21-180, -181, and -183, MCA,
and considering that the statutes do not preclude the
District Court from placing additional conditions when an
individual is discharged to receive outpatient care. Next,
C.S.-S. asserts the District Court erred in including
chemical/substance abuse diagnoses as a mental health
disorder. While the District Court could have been more
specific in separating out C.S.-S.'s bipolar disorder as
a mental disorder pursuant to § 53-21-102, MCA, with
co-occurring chemical/substance use disorders, such error is
harmless in light of the District Court's oral
pronouncement that C.S.-S. suffers from a mental health
disorder, "primarily a bipolar diagnosis" along
with other chemical/substance use disorders as well as the
evidence presented at hearing. C.S.-S. asserts the District
Court erred in ordering the involuntary administration of
medications, if necessary. As testified to by Mahr, C.S.-S.
deteriorates without medication. In its oral findings the
District Court determined when C.S.-S. is unmedicated he is
an imminent danger to himself and others such that