A. D. S. v. A. D. S., 2022AP550

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtFITZPATRICK, J.
PartiesIn re the commitment of A. D. S.: Sauk County, Petitioner-Respondent, v. A. D. S., Respondent-Appellant.
Docket Number2022AP550
Decision Date17 November 2022

In re the commitment of A. D. S.: Sauk County, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.

A. D. S., Respondent-Appellant.

No. 2022AP550

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District IV

November 17, 2022


This opinion will not be published. See Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(1)(b)4.

APPEAL from orders of the circuit court for Sauk County: No. 2019ME28 MICHAEL P. SCRENOCK, Judge.

FITZPATRICK, J. [1]

¶1 A.D.S. appeals both an order for a civil recommitment and an involuntary administration of medication order entered by

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the Sauk County Circuit Court pursuant to Wis.Stat. ch. 51. I affirm the orders of the circuit court.[2]

¶2 A.D.S. was more than fifty years old when he was held on an emergency detention in 2019. At that time, a probable cause hearing was held before the same circuit judge whose orders are on appeal in this matter. A physician testified at that time that A.D.S. suffered from elaborate delusions. As some examples, A.D.S. held the belief that he was "an electric person" wired to a cell phone that monitors him "like a lie detector." Further, according to the physician, A.D.S. could not meet his basic needs. Among other things, A.D.S. was filthy and ran a risk of infections. The law enforcement officer who interacted with A.D.S. at the relevant time testified at that hearing that A.D.S. was intoxicated, homeless in the winter, and made statements not based in reality. Orders for a civil commitment of A.D.S. and for the involuntary administration of medication were granted in 2019.

¶3 In 2021, there was a request for a recommitment of A.D.S. Brought pursuant to the petition of Sauk County. Dr. Taylor, a psychiatrist for approximately thirty years, testified as to her expert opinions regarding A.D.S., and I now summarize her pertinent testimony.

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¶4 A.D.S. suffers from schizophrenia. A.D.S. is aware that he has been diagnosed with that mental illness, but A.D.S. is unable to understand how his schizophrenia affects him. He is also unable to understand the necessity for medication and treatment of that illness. In other words, A.D.S. does not have insight into his mental illness.

¶5 A.D.S. reacts well to his medication, and the medication allows him to live in a group home. During their conversation, A.D.S. told Dr. Taylor that he does not believe his medication makes any difference for him. A.D.S. has told his "treatment team" and Dr. Taylor that, without a recommitment, he will stop taking his medication. As a result, Dr. Taylor testified it is likely that, without a recommitment order, A.D.S. will, in fact, stop taking his medication.

¶6 Without the medication, A.D.S.'s mental state will deteriorate, and he will become a proper subject for treatment due to his impaired judgment and inability to meet his basic needs for his own health and safety. If A.D.S. does not take his medication, he will have a recurrence of symptoms and behaviors resulting from his schizophrenia. Those behaviors include hearing voices and other symptoms of his illness that he had in the past which would become prominent again. According to Dr. Taylor, "[t]hat would lead him to decompensate and eventually he would end up in a hospital." Dr. Taylor also noted that A.D.S. has abused alcohol as a result of his mental illness. Summarizing, Dr. Taylor opined that, if A.D.S. does not take his medication as prescribed, he will become a danger to himself due to his impaired judgment.

¶7 Dr. Taylor discussed medications with A.D.S., but he was unable to apply an understanding of the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives to

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medication due to his mental illness. Also, A.D.S. was unable to understand that his medication is necessary and therapeutic in treating his illness.

¶8 Kayla Thomas worked with A.D.S. as a social worker and psychotherapist for about a year prior to the October 2021 hearing. Based on her experience working with A.D.S., Ms. Thomas testified that A.D.S. lacks insight into his mental illness and does not understand how his mental illness affects him. In her opinion, there is a high probability he will discontinue medication without a recommitment order and a medication order in place.

¶9 A.D.S. testified at the October 2021 hearing. On direct examination, A.D.S. stated that he is willing to continue to work with Ms. Thomas and take his medication. However, on cross-examination, A.D.S. testified that he does not believe he has a mental illness, does not need medication, and has discontinued his medication in the past when a commitment order has expired.

¶10 After the close of testimony and arguments of counsel at the October 2021 hearing, the circuit court made findings of fact which I now summarize. When A.D.S. does not take his medication, he is unable to care for himself. An example of this lack of care includes the incidents in the winter of 2019 when he was found outside and unable to care for himself. At that time, A.D.S. was "drinking too much and the alcohol was impairing his functioning as well." When A.D.S. takes his medication, he does not experience effects of schizophrenia to the extent that those effects render him dangerous to himself. The circuit court correctly noted the important factual issue in the case: What it "really comes down to, I think as it did last year, [is] whether the [c]ourt believes that [A.D.S.] will remain on his medications if not under a commitment." Even if A.D.S.

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continues to work with Ms. Thomas, "that in and of itself doesn't guarantee that he'll actually take his medications."

¶11 The court found credible Dr. Taylor's testimony that A.D.S. told her that he would not continue to take his medication if he is not under a commitment order, and the court credited Dr. Taylor's opinion that A.D.S. will not continue on his medication if removed from the commitment order. The circuit court gave weight to Dr. Taylor's testimony that A.D.S. has a lack of insight into how schizophrenia affects his thinking, and that he cannot articulate in what way his schizophrenia impairs his judgment.[3] The circuit court found not credible A.D.S.'s testimony that he will continue to take the medication even if not ordered to do so.

¶12 The circuit court further determined that, if A.D.S. does not take his medication, "he would then be unable to...

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