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State Best Interest and Protection of J. G.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

November 30, 2017

THE STATE OF TEXAS FOR THE BEST INTEREST AND PROTECTION OF J. G.

         APPEAL FROM THE COUNTY COURT CHEROKEE COUNTY, TEXAS (Tr.Ct.No. 42137)

          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          James T. Worthen, Chief Justice

         J.G. appeals from an order authorizing the Texas Department of State Health Services to administer psychoactive medication. In his sole issue, J.G. challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's order. We affirm.

         Background

         J.G. was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to the Rusk State Hospital for examination and treatment with the specific objective of his attaining competency. Appellant refused to take medication prescribed for his condition and he denied needing medication. On June 30, 2017, his treating physician, Dr. Stephen Poplar, signed an application to order the administration of psychoactive medications.

         After a hearing, the trial court signed an order authorizing the administration of psychoactive medication. In its order, the trial court stated that the allegations in Poplar's application are supported by clear and convincing evidence. The trial court concluded that J.G. lacks the capacity to make a decision regarding the administration of psychoactive medication and that treatment with the proposed medication is in J.G.'s best interest. This appeal followed.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         In his sole issue, J.G. maintains that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the trial court's order. He maintains that the evidence fails to demonstrate that he lacked the capacity to make a decision regarding the administration of the proposed medication.

         Standard of Review

         In a legal sufficiency review where the burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence, we look at all the evidence in the light most favorable to the finding to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could have formed a firm belief or conviction that its findings were true. In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002). We assume that the fact finder settled disputed facts in favor of its finding if a reasonable fact finder could do so and disregard all evidence that a reasonable fact finder could have disbelieved or found incredible. Id. This does not mean that we are required to ignore all evidence not supporting the finding because that might bias a clear and convincing analysis. Id.

         The appropriate standard for reviewing a factual sufficiency challenge is whether the evidence is such that a fact finder could reasonably form a firm belief or conviction about the truth of the petitioner's allegations. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex. 2002). In determining whether the fact finder has met this standard, we consider all the evidence in the record, both that in support of and contrary to the trial court's findings. Id. at 27-29. Further, we must consider whether disputed evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could not have reconciled that disputed evidence in favor of its finding. In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266. If the disputed evidence is so significant that a fact finder could not reasonably have formed a firm belief or conviction, the evidence is factually insufficient. Id.

         Applicable Law

         A trial court may issue an order authorizing the administration of psychoactive medications to a patient who is under a court order to receive inpatient mental health services. Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 574.106(a) (West 2017). The trial court must find, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) the patient lacks the capacity to make a decision regarding the administration of the proposed medication and (2) treatment with the proposed medication is in the patient's best interest. Id. § 574.106(a-1). "Clear and convincing evidence" means the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established. State v.Addington, 588 S.W.2d 569, 570 (Tex. 1979). "Capacity" means a patient's ability to (1) understand the nature and consequence of a proposed treatment, including the benefits, risks, and alternatives to the proposed treatment, and (2) make a decision whether to undergo the proposed treatment. Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. ยง 574.101(1) (West 2017). The trial court shall consider (1) the patient's expressed preferences regarding treatment with psychoactive medication, (2) the patient's religious beliefs, (3) the risks and benefits, from the patient's perspective, of taking psychoactive medication, (4) the ...


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