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State v. M.L.R.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 05-15-2013
Case #: A148456
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148456.pdf

Civil Commitment: Failure to advise an allegedly mentally ill person of their rights under ORS 426.100(1) regarding a commitment hearing constitutes plain error requiring reversal.

M.L.R. sought reversal of a trial court judgment committing her to the Oregon Department of Human Services.  Pursuant to ORS 426.100(1), a court must advise the allegedly mentally ill person of the reason for being brought before the court, the nature and possible results of the proceedings, their right to subpoena witnesses and their right to representation by counsel.  At the commitment hearing, the trial court failed to advise M.L.R. of her right to subpoena witnesses, and ultimately committed her to DHS custody.  On appeal, M.L.R. argued that failure to advise her of the right to subpoena witnesses constituted plain error, requiring reversal of the trial court’s order. The State argued that since M.L.R. was served with a document explaining her rights under ORS 426.100(1) prior to the commitment hearing, any error made by the trial court was harmless.  The Court held that because the document served was not signed and dated by M.L.R., there was no acknowledgement that M.L.R. actually read the document.  The violation of ORS 426.100(1) constituted plain error by the trial court, and that error was not harmless.  Reversed.