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In re D.J.W.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF D.J.W., ALLEGED TO BE SERIOUSLY MENTALLY IMPAIRED, D.J.W., Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Douglas S. Russell, Judge.

D.W. appeals from a district court order continuing his mental health commitment.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Gretchen Witte Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, and Anne Lahey, Assistant Johnson County Attorney, for appellee State.

Alan D. Gwilliam of Moore & Egerton, L.L.P., Iowa City, for appellant.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

EISENHAUER, C.J.

D.W. appeals from a district court order continuing his mental health commitment under Iowa Code chapter 229 (2011). He argues the evidence is insufficient to support the district court's ruling. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

In 2011, D.W., an eighty-one-year-old United States Air Force veteran, was hospitalized three times for bipolar disorder and dementia/cognitive disorder. As a result of a mental health commitment, he resides on the supervised unit at the Veterans Administration CIC Living Center. D.W. is allowed to move freely within the center and on the outside grounds.

D.W. timely appealed the judicial hospitalization referee's order confirming his commitment. On December 18, 2012, the district court held a trial de novo. Dr. Perez-Conde is D.W.'s treating psychiatrist. Four days before trial she treated D.W. and noted:

[D.W. has had] serial hospitalizations related to bipolar I disorder, with psychosis and alcohol dependence since 1998 (or earlier) to present. Repeated acute psych hospitalizations have frequently been court-ordered related to [D.W.'s] severe lack of insight and associated markedly impaired judgment . . . .

At trial, Dr. Perez-Conde testified D.W. is aware of his surroundings and interacts appropriately on the unit. She opined D.W. is not capable of choosing the proper course of treatment or his proper living situation and he could clearly be a danger to himself if not kept in a supervised setting. She stated D.W. is not aggressive or suicidal and if D.W. would continue to take his medication and he was in a supervised setting with assistance, then he could "take pretty good care of himself." Additionally, D.W. does not deny his heart and urinary tract problems "like he denies having bipolar disorder." Specifically:

[D.W.] has bipolar disorder . . . and he has absolutely no insight into that. Unfortunately, he equates mental illness with intelligence. He doesn't realize that he can be brilliant and, nonetheless, have a severe mental illness that incapacitates him.
And, historically, what has happened is when he has been allowed to go on his own without any kind of supervision, he will discontinue his psychotropic medication and at that time he can decompensate quickly and then he presents a ...

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