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In re T.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 20, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF T.M., Alleged to Be Seriously Mentally Impaired, T.M., Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J. Holwerda, District Associate Judge.

         T.M. appeals from the order finding that he is seriously mentally impaired and ordering him to undergo involuntary hospitalization.

          Christopher A. Clausen of Clausen Law Office, Ames, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         T.M. appeals from the order finding that he is seriously mentally impaired and ordering him to undergo involuntary hospitalization. He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the district court's finding.[1] Because there is insufficient evidence to support a finding he is likely to cause serious emotional injury if left untreated, we reverse.

         T.M.'s sister filed an application for order of involuntary hospitalization alleging T.M. had a serious mental impairment pursuant to Iowa Code section 229.6 and should be taken into immediate custody. T.M.'s sister stated that T.M. was "delusional, " believing "he is a God and a King, " in addition to thinking he has children when he does not. She further stated that T.M. made some violent posts on his Facebook page, "for example talking about killing and posting graphic photos of people who have been hung."

         Layhla Keairns, a physician's assistant working under the supervision of Dr. Stewart Fern, evaluated T.M. and completed consultation reports filed in district court. T.M. was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The reports state T.M. expressed delusions of grandeur and paranoia. The reports state T.M. was unable to make responsible decisions with respect to his hospitalization or treatment based on the severity of his symptoms. The reports opine that T.M. was likely to physically injure himself, to physically injury others, and to inflict severe emotional injury on those unable to avoid contact with him. They also state that T.M. was incapable of satisfying his needs.

Chapter 229 defines "serious mentally impaired" as
the condition of a person with mental illness and because of that illness lacks sufficient judgment to make responsible decisions with respect to the person's hospitalization or treatment, and who because of that illness meets any of the following criteria:
a. Is likely to physically injure the person's self or others if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment.
b.Is likely to inflict serious emotional injury on members of the person's family or others who lack reasonable opportunity to avoid contact with the person with mental illness if the person with mental illness is allowed to remain at liberty without treatment.
c. Is unable to satisfy the person's needs for nourishment, clothing, essential medical care, or shelter so that it is likely that the person will suffer physical ...

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