State v. S. R. J

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Commitment
  • Date Filed: 10-19-2016
  • Case #: A156553
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether evidence of danger is legally sufficient is a matter of law. To commit someone on the basis that a person is dangerous to self, the clear and convincing evidence must show that the threatened harm to self must involve “serious” and “actual” physical harm in the “near term.” Similarly, to permit commitment on the basis that a person is dangerous to others, the state must establish “that actual future violence is highly likely.”

Appellant appealed her involuntary commitment due to a mental disorder. Appellant did not dispute that the State proved she suffered from a mental illness, rather she argued that the evidence presented was insufficient to establish that her mental disorder presented a danger to her self or others. The Court began by analyzing whether the evidence was sufficient to show Appellant was a danger to herself. The Court ultimately found that the evidence of Appellant’s conduct (threatened refusal of meds) allowed an inference of any serious physical injury. Next, the Court reviewed whether the evidence established a danger to others. The State argued that the evidence was sufficient since it showed that Appellant was placed in seclusion at least once a day due to violate behavior (biting and kicking). Despite this, the Court found that the evidence was still insufficient because evidence of a struggle with security officers was legally insufficient to permit the conclusion that a person is a danger to others. Reversed. 

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