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In re B.B.-P.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF B.B.-P., Alleged to Be Seriously Mentally Impaired, B.B.-P., Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Steven J. Andreasen, Judge.

         The appellant maintains the application for her involuntary commitment should have been dismissed, as the commitment hearing took place more than five days after the court issued an order for her immediate detainment due to serious mental impairment. AFFIRMED.

          Zachary S. Hindman of Mayne, Hindman, & Daane (until withdrawal) and Jason B. Gann of Moore, Heffernan, Moeller, Johnson & Meis LLP, Sioux City, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Doyle, J., and Danilson, S.J. [*]

          POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.

         B.B.-P. appeals the district court ruling she is seriously mentally impaired and must undertake further evaluation at a local medical facility. She does not challenge the court's substantive findings but maintains the application for her involuntary commitment should have been dismissed, as the commitment hearing took place more than five days after the court issued an order for her immediate custody due to serious mental impairment. See Iowa Code § 229.11(1) (2018).

         On April 9, 2018, two members of B.B.-P.'s family filed an application alleging B.B.-P was seriously mentally impaired. The same day, the district court filed an order for immediate custody, pursuant to Iowa Code section 229.11(1). The court initially scheduled a hearing on the application for April 16.

         Then, on April 16, the court-on its own motion-issued an order continuing the hearing until April 23. In the order, the court noted B.B.-P. had not yet been served or taken into custody. The order provides little explanation for the delay, stating only, "It appears from the file the sheriff has been unable to locate [B.B.-P.] in order to serve" her.

         B.B.-P. was served and detained on April 21.

         The contested hospitalization hearing took place on April 23. B.B.-P. orally moved to dismiss the application for her involuntary commitment, maintaining the court lacked jurisdiction to proceed. In support of her motion B.B.-P. relied upon section 229.11(1), which states in part:

If the applicant requests that the respondent be taken into immediate custody and the judge, upon reviewing the application and accompanying documentation, finds probable cause to believe that the respondent has a serious mental impairment and is likely to injure the respondent or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the judge may enter a written order directing that the respondent be taken into immediate custody by the sheriff or the sheriff's deputy and be detained until the hospitalization hearing. The hospitalization hearing shall be held no more than five days after the date of the order, except that if the fifth day after the date of the order is a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, the hearing may be held on the next succeeding business day.

(Emphasis added.)

         The court concluded the five-day requirement in section 229.11(1) was not a jurisdictional requirement, as it imposed a directory rather than a mandatory duty, and the five-day limitation was not triggered until there was both custody and detention. The court noted B.B.-P had not been required to spend more than five days in detention, which the court understood to be the purpose of the cited language in the statute. The court then denied B.B.-P.'s motion to dismiss ...


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