2017 Mass.App.Div. 173, In re V.G.

Citation:2017 Mass.App.Div. 173
Opinion Judge:KIRKMAN, J.
Attorney:Richard F. Ready for the petitioner. Melanie S. Lewis for the respondent
Judge Panel:Present: Hand, P.J., Finnerty & Kirkman, JJ.
Case Date:November 08, 2017
Court:Massachusetts Appellate Division

2017 Mass.App.Div. 173


Massachusetts Appellate Division, District Court Department, Southern District

November 8, 2017

July 21, 2017

Richard F. Ready for the petitioner.

Melanie S. Lewis for the respondent.

Present: Hand, P.J., Finnerty & Kirkman, JJ.


On July 7, 2016, Westwood Lodge Hospital filed a petition for commitment of the respondent-appellant pursuant to G.L. c. 123, §§ 7 and 8. A hearing was held on July 27, 2016. The next day, the court issued written findings and an order for commitment. The court found the appellant incapable of making informed medical decisions and allowed for the administration of antipsychotic medication pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 8B. On August 4, 2016, the appellant filed a notice of appeal. He was discharged from the hospital the following week on August 10, 2016.

The appellant complains that his legal counsel was ineffective by not objecting to the admission of hearsay relied upon by the court in making its findings. He also asserts there was insufficient evidence supporting the court's orders for involuntary commitment and the administration of antipsychotic medication. 1 The hospital claims otherwise, but, more to the point, argues that the issues raised by the appellant should not be considered because they are moot. The hospital's argument has some merit.

In Acting Supt. of Bournewood Hosp. v. Baker, 431 Mass. 101 (2000), the Supreme Judicial Court set the standard by stating:

"Litigation ordinarily is considered moot when the party claiming to be aggrieved ceases to have a personal stake in its outcome. . . . Nonetheless, it is within our discretion to decide an issue which is [moot], where the question is one of public importance, is very likely to arise again in similar circumstances, and where appellate review could not be obtained before the question would again be moot. Issues involving the commitment and treatment of mentally ill persons are generally considered matters of public importance . . . [and] are classic examples of issues that are capable of repetition, yet evading review" (citations and internal quotations...

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