In the Interest of G.A.S.
G.A.S., Respondent and Appellant J.S., Petitioner and Appellee
from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.
A. Keefe, Assistant State's Attorney, for petitioner and
appellee; submitted on brief.
Gregory I. Runge, for respondent and appellant; submitted on
W.VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
1] G.A.S. appealed a district court order authorizing
involuntary treatment with prescribed medication. We conclude
the district court did not violate G.A.S.'s statutory
rights by accepting testimony from one of G.A.S.'s
treating psychiatrists, and the court's factual findings
are supported by the evidence. We affirm.
2] On May 12, 2016, G.A.S.'s mother petitioned for
involuntary commitment at St. Alexius Medical Center in
Bismarck after hospital personnel became concerned about
G.A.S.'s health because he refused psychiatric
medication. G.A.S. waived a preliminary hearing, and on May
17, 2016, the district court ordered him involuntarily
committed for 14 days. On May 20, 2016, G.A.S.'s treating
psychiatrist, Dr. Diane Nelson, filed a request to treat
G.A.S. with prescribed medication. Dr. Stephanie Jallen
signed the request to treat with medication as
"another... psychiatrist... not involved in the current
diagnosis or treatment of [G.A.S.]." A treatment hearing
and medication hearing were scheduled for May 31, 2016.
G.A.S. waived the treatment hearing and acknowledged he is a
person requiring treatment under N.D.C.C. §
25-03.1-02(13). At the medication hearing, Dr. Jallen
testified as G.A.S.'s treating psychiatrist and stated
G.A.S.'s mental condition would continue to deteriorate
if he did not take prescribed medication. At the conclusion
of the hearing the district court ordered involuntary
treatment with the prescribed medication Zyprexa for 90 days.
3] G.A.S. argues the district court should have denied the
request to treat with medication because Dr. Jallen testified
as G.A.S.'s treating psychiatrist in violation of
N.D.C.C. § 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a). G.A.S. argues Dr. Jallen,
who signed the request as a psychiatrist not involved in
G.A.S.'s current treatment, should not have been involved
in any way, shape or form with G.A.S.'s treatment regimen
other than to review his chart and consult with Dr. Nelson to
determine his medication needs.
4] Under N.D.C.C. § 25-03.1-29, an appeal from an
involuntary treatment order is "limited to a review of
the procedures, findings, and conclusions of the lower
court." A district court's decision to order
involuntary treatment with medication must be based upon
clear and convincing evidence, and this Court reviews the
district court's findings under a more probing clearly
erroneous standard of review. In re M.M., 2005 ND
219, ¶ 9, 707 N.W.2d 78. "Under this more probing
standard, 'we will affirm an order for involuntary
treatment unless it is induced by an erroneous view of the
law or if we are firmly convinced it is not supported by
clear and convincing evidence.'" Id.
(quoting In re P.B., 2005 ND 201, ¶ 5, 706
5] Section 25-03.1-18.1, N.D.C.C., governs court-authorized
involuntary treatment with prescribed medication. Section
25-03.1-18.1(1)(a), N.D.C.C., provides:
Upon notice and hearing, a treating psychiatrist may request
authorization from the court to treat an individual under a
mental health treatment order with prescribed medication. The
request may be considered by the court in an involuntary
treatment hearing. As a part of the request, the treating
psychiatrist and another licensed physician, physician
assistant, psychiatrist, or advanced practice registered
nurse not involved in the current diagnosis or treatment of
the patient shall certify:
(1) That the proposed prescribed medication is clinically
appropriate and necessary to effectively treat the patient
and that the patient is a person requiring treatment;
(2) That the patient was offered that treatment and refused
it or that the patient lacks the capacity to make or
communicate a ...