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In re M.A.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 22, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF M.A., Alleged to be Seriously Mentally Impaired, M.A., Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, George L. Stigler, Judge. Respondent appeals from a district court's order of involuntary commitment. VACATED AND REMANDED.

          J. Andrew Cederdahl, Waterloo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Witte Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         M.A. appeals from the district court's order of involuntary commitment. He argues (1) the district court in Black Hawk County did not have subject matter jurisdiction because M.A. resided in and was located in a different county, (2)there was not substantial evidence M.A. was a legitimate threat to others, and (3)the applicant claiming the need for the commitment proceedings had insufficient knowledge upon which the court could base its ruling. Finding the first issue dispositive, we vacate and remand.

         I. Backgrounds Facts and Proceedings

         M.A.'s mother filed an application with the Black Hawk County Clerk of Court alleging M.A. was seriously mentally impaired. M.A.'s ex-wife filed the supporting affidavit, which stated M.A. resided in Black Hawk County but did not identify a street or city. The application and affidavit both asserted M.A. suffered from a mental illness and had made threats of harm on Facebook directed at people in Black Hawk County. Based on the application and the affidavit, the district court entered an order for immediate custody to have M.A. detained at Covenant Hospital in Waterloo. On May 20, 2016, M.A. was found by police in Cedar Rapids and was transported to a location where an officer of the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office took custody of M.A. and delivered him to Covenant Hospital. On May 25, a hospitalization referee held a hearing. At the commencement of M.A.'s testimony, he told the court he lived in Cedar Rapids and had for two years. During his attorney's direct examination of him, this exchange occurred:

Q. Because they don't live with you?
A. No. But you- (inaudible) and another thing on the affidavit it says Black Hawk County. I live in Linn County. How you going to take a commitment-
Q. All right. Let's try to answer my question. Okay.

         After hearing all the testimony, the referee ordered M.A. committed for an inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment at Covenant Hospital.[1]

         M.A. filed a written notice of appeal of the referee's decision, which recited he lived in Cedar Rapids and was apprehended in Linn County and transported to Black Hawk County. The notice also stated: "Committal orders['] jurisdiction are just county wide." The appeal hearing was held on May 31. The record at the district court shows M.A. questioned how the court could proceed when he was a resident of Linn County and was taken into custody in Linn County. This exchange occurred during the court's lengthy direct examination of M.A.:

[M.A.]: Your Honor, I had no intentions on coming back to Waterloo. They came down to Linn County and got me. What is the jurisdiction on committals? I had no intentions on coming to Black Hawk ...

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