Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re I.G.

Supreme Court of Vermont

August 31, 2016

In re I.G.

         On Appeal from Superior Court, Washington Unit, Family Division.

          Marilyn Skoglund, J., Specially Assigned William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, Montpelier, and Philip Back, Assistant Attorney General, Waterbury, for Petitioner-Appellee.

          Rebecca T. Plummer, Vermont Legal Aid, Inc., Montpelier, for Respondent-Appellant.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Robinson and Eaton, JJ., and Hoar, Supr. J., Specially Assigned.

          ROBINSON, J.

         ¶ 1.In this case, an involuntarily hospitalized patient diagnosed with schizophrenia appeals the trial court's order allowing for his involuntary medication. Patient argues that the court erred by (1) incorrectly applying the competency standard under 18 V.S.A. § 7625, and (2) failing to address whether a previously prepared document reflecting his desire not to be given psychiatric medication was a "competently expressed written . . . preference[] regarding medication" under 18 V.S.A. § 7627(b). We conclude that the trial court's findings support its conclusion under § 7625, but agree that the trial court did not squarely address patient's argument under § 7627 in its findings. Accordingly, we reverse on that issue and remand for the trial court to issue findings addressing the applicability of §7627(b) to patient's prior written expression of his preferences.

         ¶ 2. Patient is thirty-two years old and is from Morrisville. He was hospitalized at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) in Berlin on April 15, 2016, pursuant to a court order stemming from his arrest and criminal prosecution for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. Patient had been hospitalized once before-also at VPCH-from May 5, 2015, to July 28, 2015. During that previous hospitalization, patient was diagnosed with schizophrenia and-in July 2015- VPCH unsuccessfully sought a court order to involuntarily medicate him.

         ¶ 3. In the present case, the court noted that it rejected the State's prior request to involuntarily medicate patient because the State did not prove that he was incompetent and the potential side effects of the medication outweighed its potential benefits. Shortly after the court in the previous case decided not to involuntarily medicate him, patient was discharged from VPCH and began living at Soteria House, a residence for people with mental illness in Burlington.

         ¶ 4. While there, patient signed a document purporting to be an advance directive in which he stated that he did not want any psychiatric medication because such medication caused him anger and homicidal ideation and inhibits "the limbic system from powering organs." By a checkbox on the form, he indicated that he was aware that his stated preference might result in longer hospital stays and may result in his being involuntarily committed or treated, and he prioritized the interventions he prefers by listing seclusion, then seclusion and physical restraints combined, then physical restraints first, with medication in pill, liquid, and injection form as his lowest priorities. Patient concedes that this document "did not meet the statutory requirements of an advance directive because it was not signed by two witnesses."

          ¶ 5. Following his current hospitalization, the State filed an application to involuntarily medicate patient over a ninety-day period on April 21, 2016. A hearing was held on May 4, 2016, at which the State presented one witness-patient's treating psychiatrist-and patient presented two witnesses-himself and a staff person from Soteria House.

         ¶ 6. First, patient's psychiatrist testified that he had treated patient during both his previous hospitalization and his current hospitalization. The psychiatrist described a pattern of beliefs and behaviors starting in 2012 that led him to diagnose patient with schizophrenia:

[Patient] has shown fixed false beliefs . . . he's shown evidence of acting on persecutory delusions in a manner that seems dangerous at certain points. He also shows disorganized thought process. His speech wanders from topic to topic.
He also shows unusual behaviors around clothing and, let's say- taking apart the seams in his clothing to replace the threads with organic material because of a preoccupation with toxins.
. . .
[H]e thinks medications are also toxic. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.