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In re Best Interest and Protection of B.J.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 5, 2019

IN THE BEST INTEREST AND PROTECTION OF B.J., Relator

          On Appeal from the Probate Court No. 3 Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause Nos. MI-18-03203 & MED-18-80461

          Before Chief Justice Burns and Justices Molberg and Nowell.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT D. BURNS, III CHIEF JUSTICE.

         B.J. appeals from a judgment committing her to temporary inpatient mental health services and an order permitting her psychiatrist to administer psychoactive medication during the term of her commitment. In her appeal of the commitment judgment, appellant contends the trial court's findings that she was likely to cause serious harm to herself or others are not supported by legally and factually sufficient evidence. In her appeal of the medication order, appellant contends the medication order should be reversed because it depends upon the insufficiently supported commitment judgment. We affirm both cases.

         Background

         On October 25, 2018, Dr. Muhammad Haqqani, one of appellant's treating psychiatrists, filed an application for temporary court-ordered mental health services for appellant and a supporting physician's certificate. On that same date, the State filed a motion for an order of protective custody requesting that appellant be detained at Dallas Behavioral Health Hospital ("DBHH" hereinafter) pending a probable cause hearing. The trial court granted the State's motion and signed an order of protective custody pending trial. On October 26, 2018, Dr. Haqqani filed an application to administer four types of psychoactive medication to appellant. On that same date, a second psychiatrist treating appellant, Dr. Bachir Debba, filed a supporting physician's certificate.

         Both Haqqani and Debba diagnosed appellant with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, and each psychiatrist certified that appellant was mentally ill, was likely to cause serious harm to herself or others, was suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional or physical distress, was deteriorating in her ability to function independently and unable to provide for her basic needs, and was unable to make a rational and informed decision regarding treatment. Haqqani stated he had been treating appellant for twenty-seven days. He described appellant as psychotic, unable to care for herself, and noncompliant with medications. According to Haqqani, appellant believed hospital staff members were sexually assaulting her in her sleep, cutting her hair, and filing down her teeth and nose. Appellant believed an "electrostimulator" had been implanted in her brain. Haqqani further described appellant as unwilling to bathe because she wanted to preserve DNA evidence of the repeated sexual assaults.

         Debba certified he had been treating appellant for twenty-eight days. Debba reported that on October 26, 2018, appellant had told him that an electrostimulator had been implanted in her head in 2013, that she was being stalked by white men and white women, and that she has been detained for reporting she had been raped. Debba stated his opinion that appellant was noncompliant with taking her medication, was psychotic, and was unable to care for herself. Debba stated that appellant believed she was being repeatedly raped in her sleep, she had called the police several times, she was refusing to bathe because she did not want to wash away DNA evidence, she was paranoid of others, and was verbally aggressive. Debba described appellant as disheveled, anxious, having disorganized thoughts, persecutory delusions, and exhibiting poor insight and judgment.

         On November 15, 2018, the trial court conducted hearings on the pending applications. After hearing testimony from Dr. Haqqani and appellant and considering the physician certificates on file, the trial court granted the commitment application and committed appellant for up to ninety days. Immediately following the commitment hearing, the trial court heard testimony from Haqqani and appellant and then granted the application for an order to administer psychoactive medication during the term of the commitment.

         Standard of Review

         We apply the same standard of review to both the commitment judgment and the order to administer psychoactive medication. State ex rel. D. W., 359 S.W.3d 383, 385 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.). Both orders must be supported by clear and convincing evidence that shows appellant's mental health meets specific statutory criteria. Id.

         "Clear and convincing evidence is 'that measure or degree of proof which 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 ex rel. M.P., 418 S.W.3d 850, 853 (Tex. App.-Dallas, no pet.) (quoting State v. Addington, 588 S.W.2d 569, 570 (Tex. 1979 (per curiam)). In determining whether evidence is legally and factually sufficient to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence, we apply a heightened standard of review. In re C.H., 89 S.W.3d 17, 25 (Tex. 2002). In reviewing for legal sufficiency the trial court's findings under a "clear and convincing evidence" standard, we consider all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's findings to determine whether a reasonable factfinder could have formed a firm belief or conviction that the findings were true. State v. K.E.W., 315 S.W.3d 16, 20 (Tex. 2010). We assume the trial court resolved disputed facts in favor of its findings if a reasonable factfinder could have done so, and we disregard all contrary evidence unless a reasonable factfinder could not have done so. Id. In our factual sufficiency review, we give due consideration to the evidence that the factfinder could reasonably have found to be clear and convincing and then determine whether, based on the entire record, any disputed evidence that a reasonable factfinder could not have credited in favor of the finding is so significant that the factfinder could not reasonably have formed a firm belief or conviction regarding the truth of the allegations. In re J.F.C, 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002).

         Order of Involuntary Commitment

         The criteria for committing a proposed patient for court-ordered temporary inpatient mental health services is set forth in Section 574.034(a) of the health and safety code::

The judge may order a proposed patient to receive court-ordered temporary inpatient mental health services only if the judge or jury finds, from clear and convincing evidence, that:
(1) the proposed patient is a person with mental illness; and
(2) as a result of that mental illness the proposed patient:
(A) is likely to cause serious harm to the ...

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