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In re L.R.-N.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 20, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF L.R.-N., Alleged to be a Person with a Substance-Related Disorder, L.R.-N. Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey L. Poulson, Judge.

         L.R.-N. appeals from the district court order finding he is a person with a substance-related disorder and placing him in outpatient treatment pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 125 (2017).

          Zachary S. Hindman of Mayne, Arneson, Hindman, Hisey & Daane, Sioux City, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         On December 18, 2017, an application alleging L.R.-N. to be a person with a substance-related disorder was filed in the district court. The court subsequently appointed an attorney to represent L.R.-N. and a physician to examine L.R.-N. Following the physician's examination, the doctor opined L.R.-N. was a person with a substance-related disorder-specifically, alcohol use disorder and marijuana use disorder. The doctor recommended L.R.-N. be discharged prior to hearing with follow-up at a treatment center "for intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment."

         A hearing was held on December 28, 2017, and the court filed its order the same day. The court's order is a preprinted form with numerous blanks to be filled in and lines to be checked as appropriate. The order indicates the hearing was uncontested and L.R.-N. appeared with his attorney. The court noted the parties stipulated to "all statutory elements and treatment as recommended." The court checked the lines stating:

Court after reviewing court file; hearing the evidence and statements of parties and being otherwise advised FINDS: Respondent is a person with a substance-related disorder as set forth below by clear and convincing evidence.
Respondent:
(1) has a diagnosable substance abuse disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association that results in a functional impairment.

         The court checked the line that followed, which stated "(2) (Set forth factual basis for above), " and in the following blank line wrote "Application, report from [the doctor]." The court checked the line stating, "IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Respondent is a person with a substance-related disorder." The court ordered L.R.-N. be placed at a treatment center for further evaluation and treatment, and he was to contact the provider to begin treatment within fifteen days of the order. L.R.-N. was also ordered to comply with intensive outpatient treatment.

         L.R.-N. did not contact the treatment facility as ordered, and the court subsequently entered another order directing L.R.-N. to comply with its prior order within ten days. Four days later, L.R.-N. filed a notice of appeal from the district court's December 28, 2017 order finding he is a person with a substance-related disorder and placing him in outpatient treatment pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 125 (2017).

         On appeal, L.R.-N. acknowledges "he did not argue before the district court that the record lacks sufficient evidence to support a finding that he is a person with a substance-related disorder-indeed, L.R.-N. stipulated to the district court's order."[1] Nevertheless, he asserts the district court eschewed its statutory "obligation to independently review the evidence in the record" and "ensure that the evidence in the record in fact satisfies the statutory ...


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