Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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Mont. Code Ann. 53-21-119(1), which prohibits a person from waiving the right to counsel in civil commitment proceedings, does not violate the Sixth or the Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. After the State filed a petition to involuntarily commit Respondent, Respondent advised the district court that he wished to waive counsel and represent himself. The district court denied Respondent’s request. The district court later approved a stipulation entered into by Respondent, together with his appointed counsel, for commitment to community-based treatment, and ordered Respondent’s commitment. On appeal, Respondent argued that section 53-21-119(1) violates his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Due Process clause does not establish as fundamental the right to represent oneself in civil commitment proceedings; and (2) the prohibition against waiver in civil commitment proceedings is reasonably related to a permissible legislative objective. View "In re S.M." on Justia Law

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Under Montana law, a debtor may claim an exemption for a health savings account (HSA) within the constraints imposed by Mont. Code Ann. 25-13-608(1)(d) or (f). Debtor in this case filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. Debtor claimed his HSA exempt in the amount of $14,319.61 pursuant to section 25-13-608(1)(d) or (f). Debtor’s withdrawal of funds from the HSA was applied exclusively to qualified medical expenses. The trustee filed an objection to the claim of exemption. The bankruptcy court certified a question on the issue to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that a debtor may claim an exemption for an HSA to the extent that it is “used or will be used to pay for the care” described in section 25-13-608(1)(f). View "In re John Charles Giacometto" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed the order of the district court recommitting him to the Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center for a period of up to one year and finding that involuntary administration of necessary medication was in Appellant’s best interest. On appeal, Appellant challenged the sufficiency of the district court’s written findings of fact and sought remand for entry of an amended recommitment order with required statutory findings. The Supreme Court remanded for entry of an amended recommitment order, holding that the district court’s recommitment order did not minimally comply with the specific findings requirements of Mont. Code Ann. 53-12-127(8)(b), (c), (d), (f), (g) and -128(1)(d). View "In re D.L.B." on Justia Law

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The Yellowstone County Attorney filed four petitions for commitment against C.B., a twenty-eight-year-old female with a lengthy history of mental illness. The first three petitions were dismissed. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court granted the fourth petition and commitment to the Montana State Hospital (MSH). The court also authorized the administration of involuntary medication in the event that C.B. refused to take her medications. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the State had satisfied its burden of proof authorizing commitment; (2) the district court did not err by authorizing the administration of involuntary medication when it “may be necessary”; and (3) C.B. received effective assistance of counsel. View "In re C.B." on Justia Law

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The Missoula County Attorney’s Office petitioned for a determination that K.P. suffered from a mental disorder requiring involuntary commitment. After a commitment hearing, the district court involuntarily committed K.P. to the Montana State Hospital (MSH) in Warm Springs. K.P. appealed, arguing that the district court’s oral order of involuntary commitment violated Mont. Code Ann. 53-21-127(8) and due process because it failed to include the required factual findings. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated the district court’s commitment order, holding that the district court’s order did not satisfy section 53-21-127(8) because there were no findings of facts to support the general conclusions. View "In re K.P." on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition seeking the commitment of C.K. to the Montana State Hospital (MSH) for involuntary mental health treatment pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 35-21-127. At the commitment hearing, the examining mental health professional, Kim Waples, testified about C.K.’s behavior based on her initial evaluation report and a therapeutic group home’s counseling and staff records. At the close of the hearing, the district court granted the State’s petition and committed C.K. to the MSH for ninety days. C.K. appealed, arguing that the district court erred in admitting and considering inadmissible hearsay referenced in Waples’ hearing testimony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) otherwise inadmissible hearsay may be admissible through an expert under Mont. R. Evid. 703 upon proper foundation and for the limited purpose of explaining the basis of the expert’s opinion rather than proving the facts asserted in the statement; and (2) the district court in this case did not abuse its discretion in admitting and considering the otherwise inadmissible hearsay referenced in Waples’ testimony for the purpose of explaining her opinions and recommendations. View "In re C.K." on Justia Law

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D.L.B., a seventy-five-year-old male suffering from mental illness, has been involuntarily committed to mental hospitals throughout his life. In 2015, the State filed a petition to extend D.L.B.’s commitment to the Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center for further evaluation and treatment. After an adjudicatory hearing, the district court orally extended D.L.B.’s commitment to the Nursing Care Center for a period of not more than six months. D.L.B. appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings were sufficient to support a conclusion that recommitment to the Nursing Care Center was statutorily authorized. View "In re D.L.B." on Justia Law

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The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office filed a petition to involuntarily commit R.H., who suffers from bipolar disorder and general anxiety disorder. After a hearing, the district court found that R.H. suffered from a mental disorder and was unable to care for herself, that Montana State Hospital was the least restrictive treatment option available to R.H., and that administration of medication may be necessary to facilitate treatment for R.H. The Supreme Court affirmed the order for commitment and reversed the administration of involuntary medication, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the commitment of R.H.; but (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the requirement that an involuntary medication order was necessary. View "In re R.H." on Justia Law

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The Dawson County Attorney petitioned for the involuntary commitment of C.V. alleging that, due to her mental disorder, she was unable to provide for her own basic needs of safety and there was an imminent threat of injury to herself or others. The district court ultimately granted the State’s petition for involuntary commitment, concluding that C.V. suffered from a delusional disorder and that there was an imminent threat of injury to herself or others from her acts or omissions. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the district court’s decision that there was sufficient evidence to commit C.V. to the Montana State Hospital; but (2) reversed and remanded to the district court to strike the condition that C.V. shall be immediately taken back to the Montana State Hospital to continue treatment if she does not comply with discharge recommendations after the ninety-day commitment. View "In re C.V." on Justia Law

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Initiative No. 181 (I-181) proposed to enact the “Montana Biomedical Research Authority Act.” The Secretary of State determined that sufficient signatures had been submitted to qualify I-181 for the November 8, 2016 general election ballot. Petitioners filed a petition for declaratory and injunctive relief requesting that the Supreme Court exercise its original jurisdiction to declare I-181 unconstitutional on its face and to enjoin its certification for the November 2016 general election ballot. The Supreme Court denied Petitioners’ request without prejudice to the filing of an appropriate civil action should the measure become law, as I-181 was not a “law.” View "Montana AFL-CIO v. McCulloch" on Justia Law