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Addington v. Texas
United States Supreme Court
441 U.S. 418 (1979)
For years, Frank Addington (defendant) was repeatedly committed to state facilities for temporary mental-health treatment. After one release, Addington threatened and assaulted his mother. Addington’s mother then petitioned to have him committed indefinitely. After a full trial, the jury was instructed to commit Addington if there was clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that Addington was a threat to himself or others. The jury found that this standard was satisfied, and Addington was involuntarily committed to a state mental-health hospital for an indefinite amount of time. On appeal, the Texas Supreme Court found that a lower standard of proof, preponderance of the evidence, was enough for a civil commitment but upheld Addington’s commitment under the higher clear-unequivocal-and-convincing-evidence standard because it would have also passed this lower bar. The case then went before the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)
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