In Matter of Mental Health of D.R.S.

221 Mont. 245, 718 P.2d 335 (1986)

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In Matter of Mental Health of D.R.S.

Montana Supreme Court
221 Mont. 245, 718 P.2d 335 (1986)

Facts

In November 1982, D.R.S. (plaintiff) and an accomplice committed an armed robbery of a store. During the robbery, the pair took the store clerk behind the building, threatened that they would shoot him if he did not cooperate, taped him up after getting the store safe’s combination, and then left him under a pile of wood behind the store in the cold. The clerk stated that he feared for his life and identified D.R.S. as the one who taped him up. However, D.R.S. was found incompetent to stand trial for the robbery and was hospitalized until his competency was restored two years later. The armed-robbery charges were eventually dropped on speedy-trial grounds, but a month after D.R.S. was declared competent, a Montana district court ordered that D.R.S. be committed to a state hospital. The statute that authorized D.R.S.’s commitment required the state to prove that D.R.S. posed an imminent threat of injury to himself or others by proof of a sufficiently recent overt act that was relevant to D.R.S.’s condition at the time of his commitment hearing. The 1982 robbery was the sole overt act presented in D.R.S.’s hearing. However, a psychiatrist who treated D.R.S. during the two years that he was hospitalized to restore his competency testified that D.R.S.’s mental condition had not changed in the time between the robbery and the hearing. The psychiatrist predicted that D.R.S. would become dangerous within two months of not being in a supervised environment based on the facts that D.R.S. had expressed an intent to use alcohol once release and D.R.S.’s condition had deteriorated during a stay in jail when he was not given his medication. D.R.S. appealed the commitment, arguing that the robbery was not sufficiently recent in time to support the court’s order.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gulbrandson, J.)

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