Alaska Supreme Court Opinions made Available byTouch N' Go Systems and Bright Solutions

Touch N' Go
, the DeskTop In-and-Out Board makes your office run smoother.


You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. In Re Necessity for the Hospitalization of Reid K. (9/25/2015) sp-7051

In Re Necessity for the Hospitalization of Reid K. (9/25/2015) sp-7051

         Notice:  This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the PACIFIC  REPORTER .  

         Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts,  

         303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, email  



In the Matter of the Necessity                           )  

for the Hospitalization of                               )        Supreme Court No. S-15328  


REID K.                                                  )        Superior  Court  No.  4FA-13-00446 PR  




                                                         )        O P I N I O N  


                                                         )        No. 7051 - September 25, 2015  


                   Appeal  from  the  Superior  Court  of  the  State  of  Alaska,  

                   Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Paul R. Lyle, Judge.  

                   Appearances:  Rachel Cella, Assistant Public Defender, and  


                   Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for Appellant  


                   Reid K.  Janell M. Hafner, Assistant Attorney General, and  

                   Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee  

                   State of Alaska.  

                   Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and  


                   Bolger, Justices.  

                   FABE, Chief Justice.  


                   In  August  2013  the  superior  court  entered  a  30-day  involuntary  civil  


commitment  order  for  Reid  K.1  

                                                  After  holding  a  contested  evidentiary  hearing,  the  

superior court found that Reid was likely to harm others and that no less restrictive  

          1        Pseudonyms have been used to protect the privacy of the parties.  

----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

alternative existed to prevent potential harm.   Reid appeals that 30-day commitment.  


Shortly  after  Reid's  30-day  commitment,  Reid's  doctors  petitioned  for  a  90-day  

commitment.  At the trial on the requested 90-day commitment, Reid stipulated that he         

was mentally ill and, as a result, was likely to cause harm to himself or others.  Reid's   

30-day commitment order thus does not have collateral consequences in light of his  


subsequent 90-day commitment based on his stipulation.  Moreover the public interest  


exception to the mootness doctrine does not apply.  Reid's appeal is therefore dismissed  

as moot.  



                     Reid K., age 26, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 16.  He  

experiences delusions and severe command auditory hallucinations in the form of seven  


different voices that often instruct him to harm and kill other people, including members  


of his family and his home village.  Reid has been prescribed antipsychotic medication  

since  age  16  to  help  control  his  hallucinations  and  manage  his  illness,  but  he  has  


repeatedly stopped taking his medications as prescribed.  When Reid stops taking his  


prescribed medications or smokes large quantities of marijuana, which he does regularly,  

the voices increase in intensity and his hallucinations get worse.  

                     Reid has previously acted on his hallucinations by taking steps toward  

homicidal acts.  In 2012, in response to voices in his head, Reid attempted to kill his  


brother with a sword.  Reid was hospitalized in November 2012 and again prescribed  

psychiatric medication, though it is unclear whether that hospitalization required an  

involuntary  commitment.    Following  Reid's  discharge  from  the  hospital,  Reid  met  

telephonically with his outpatient psychiatrist, Dr. Joshua Sonkiss, who was responsible  

for overseeing Reid's medication regimen.  


                     Reid stopped taking his medication soon after his release from the hospital  

in 2012.  He testified that he stopped taking his medication because he wanted to see  

                                                                  -2-                                                           7051

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

"how far [he] would go before anything could happen."  Reid missed between ten and  


twenty percent of his outpatient appointments with Dr. Sonkiss and did not disclose to  


Dr. Sonkiss that he had stopped taking his medication as prescribed.  Reid heard voices  


telling  him  to  kill  people  for  up  to  seven  of  the  eight  months  after  being  off  his  



                    Reid's treatment plan required that he abstain from alcohol and marijuana  

because his doctors believed those substances would exacerbate Reid's disorder and  


make his psychosis worse.  But Reid regularly used marijuana as a "stress reliever."  At  

one point Reid told Dr. Sonkiss that he had smoked marijuana 22 out of the past 30 days  

in addition to using "lots of other substances."  


                    By August 2013 Reid's command auditory hallucinations had intensified  


and  were  telling  him  to  carry  out  a  mass  murder,  beginning  with  his  family  and  


continuing    to  each  of  the  400  residents  of  his  village.    In  response  to  these  

hallucinations,  Reid  obtained  a  7-millimeter  firearm  that  he  planned  to  use  to  kill  


residents at an upcoming village gathering.  But when Reid went to buy ammunition, he  


discovered that the store did not have the correct type of bullets in stock.  A few days  


later, Reid began having  what he characterized as momentary "conscience," and he  


reported his homicidal plans to Dr. Sonkiss, admitting that his symptoms had gotten "out  

of control."  

                    On  August  16,  2013,  Reid  was  voluntarily  admitted  for  treatment  at  


Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.  After his first week of  hospitalization, Reid thought he  

no longer needed inpatient treatment because he had come to realize that the voices were  

telling  him  to  do  a  "bad  thing"  and  that  his  family  was  prepared  to  help  him.    His  

inpatient  treating  psychiatrist,  Dr.  Monique  Dase,  filed  a  petition  for  involuntary  

commitment for evaluation on August 26, 2013, and the following day obtained a court  

order committing Reid to the hospital for evaluation.   

                                                             -3-                                                        7051

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

                     Two days later, on August 28, 2013, Dr. Dase filed a petition for a 30-day         


                       The petition described Reid's  "plan to kill people in his village," his  


history of medication noncompliance, and his substance abuse.  The petition alleged that  


Reid was "likely to cause harm" to others and that "[t]he evaluation staff has considered,  


but has not found, any less restrictive alternatives available that would adequately protect  


[Reid]  or  others."              The  superior  court  held  a  contested  hearing  on  the  30-day  


commitment petition the next day.  Dr. Dase and Dr. Sonkiss testified in support of the  


petition, and Reid, represented by counsel, testified on his own behalf.  


                    Dr. Dase testified that she was Reid's treating psychiatrist at Fairbanks  


Memorial Hospital and that she had met with Reid most days during his hospitalization.  


During  Reid's  hospitalization,  Dr.  Dase  completed  a  psychiatric  evaluation  and  

confirmed Reid's earlier diagnosis of schizophrenia based on his command auditory  


hallucinations, which "provide commentary or tell [Reid] to do things to harm himself  

or others."  She testified that Reid told her he heard multiple voices in his head that had  


"become really strong, and [would] tell him to hurt other people" when he did not take  


his medication as prescribed.  She also testified that Reid had "been diagnosed with  

cannabis dependence and ha[d] a history of alcohol abuse," and that Reid had told her  


that smoking "too much pot," drinking alcohol, and not sleeping made his hallucinations  

worse.  Dr. Dase cited studies showing a connection between substance abuse and an  

increased risk of violence in schizophrenics with violent tendencies.  


                    Dr. Dase warned the court that Reid did not seem to understand that his  


condition was chronic and that he posed a significant risk to others if he did not follow  

through        with      every      part     of    his    treatment,         including        medication          compliance,  

          2          On  August  28,  2013,  Dr.  Dase  also  filed  a  petition  to  administer  

psychotropic medication, though she withdrew the petition the next day.  

                                                                -4-                                                              7051  

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------


communicating with treatment providers, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.  Before  


the  hearing  Dr.  Dase  had  prescribed  a  weekly  injectable  form  of  antipsychotic  


medication, but she cautioned that the injection would not be fully effective for another  


two weeks and that during that time Reid would need to take the drug in a daily oral  


form.  She testified that if Reid was discharged, he would return to a stressful home  


environment where he would be exposed to alcohol and other substances and would  


likely stop taking his medication, which would cause a relapse or a "worse situation."  


Dr.  Dase  testified  that  Reid's  home  environment  was  a  potential  symptom  trigger  


because  some  of  Reid's  family  members  had  historically  been  unsupportive  of  his  


treatment and medication needs.  She noted that Reid had learned to mask his symptoms  


from his family, who she said were unaware of the extent of his recent planned attack.  


Dr.  Dase  testified  that,  in  her  opinion,  there  was  no  less  restrictive  alternative  to  

hospitalization that could meet Reid's needs and keep the community safe.  


                     Dr. Sonkiss, Reid's outpatient psychiatrist and Dr. Dase's supervisor, also  

testified at Reid's 30-day commitment hearing.  He confirmed Reid's schizophrenia  


diagnosis and testified in detail about Reid's hallucinations and delusions.  Dr. Sonkiss  

testified that the only reason Reid did not carry out the planned village killings was  

because Reid did not have the bullets.  Dr. Sonkiss agreed with Dr. Dase's conclusion  


that substance abuse negatively impacted Reid's condition and that Reid posed a danger  


to others due to his auditory hallucinations.  Dr. Sonkiss testified that "scientific research  


shows very clearly that smoking marijuana . . . for people who already have a psychotic  


disorder, it exacerbates it . . . [and] in [Reid's] case there's some research that indicates  

marijuana increases violence risk by about a factor of four."  

                     Dr.   Sonkiss   also   testified   regarding   Reid's   history   of   medication  

noncompliance and warned that Reid "isn't honest about his medication use when he's  


an outpatient." In Dr. Sonkiss's opinion, Reid's previous failure to follow his medication  

                                                                -5-                                                          7051

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

regimen   necessitated   continued   hospitalization,   particularly   since   the   injectable  


antipsychotic had yet to take effect.  Dr. Sonkiss testified that outpatient care was not yet  

appropriate since Reid did not have a treatment plan and services in place to provide  


Reid  with  adequate  monitoring  and  to  ensure  community  safety  in  light  of  what  


Dr.  Sonkiss  characterized  as  "a  very  unusual  and  extremely  dangerous  situation."  


Dr. Sonkiss testified that, in his opinion, Reid posed a substantial risk of harm to himself  


and others and that his mental illness was "very, very likely [to] drive him to . . . commit  

a tragic act."  


                    Reid  was  the  final  witness  to  testify.    Reid  did  not  dispute  that  he  is  


mentally ill.  He confirmed that he hears voices in his head that command him to kill  


people,  discussed  his  plans  to  kill  members  of  his  village,  and  acknowledged  his  


previous decision to stop taking psychiatric medications shortly after his release from the  


hospital eight months earlier.  Reid conceded that he needs to be on medication because  


"[i]f not, something really bad can happen."  He denied that his marijuana use was a  

problem and instead characterized it as a coping skill, testifying that he needed to use  

marijuana when he encountered difficult times with depression and family problems.  


Reid testified that he no longer needed to be hospitalized and asked to be discharged to  


live  with  his  grandmother,  where,  he  asserted,  his  sister  would  help  distribute  his  

medication so that "someone will know that I'm taking [it]."  

                    At the conclusion of the hearing, the superior court found that there was  


clear and convincing evidence showing Reid was mentally ill and that, as a result of his  

mental illness, he was likely to cause harm to others.  The superior court based its latter  

finding on Reid's recent plans to kill members of his village; his history of medication  

noncompliance; his marijuana use and "credible testimony from the experts . . . that . . .  


marijuana use exacerbates his schizophrenic symptoms"; and Reid's lack of insight into  

his illness as demonstrated by his continued drug use because it "exacerbates the voices  

                                                               -6-                                                         7051

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

that he hears when he's off his medication, as well as when he's on his medication."  The  


superior court also found that a 30-day commitment was the least restrictive alternative  


to prevent potential harm. The court based its least-restrictive-alternative finding on the  


inadequacy of Reid's proposed outpatient plan, reasoning that Reid's sister did not have  


the ability to ensure that Reid would follow the medication regimen necessary to reduce  


his likelihood of harming others; that Reid's family could not adequately supervise Reid  

and know when he might pose a risk to others because Reid had learned to mask his  


symptoms; and that Reid's village did not have a sufficient law enforcement presence to  


protect the community should Reid attempt to harm others.  On August 29, 2013, the  

court signed an order for a 30-day commitment.  


                       One month later, after the initial 30-day commitment expired, Dr. Sonkiss  

filed a petition for a 90-day commitment, alleging that Reid was still likely to cause harm  


to  himself or others.  The matter proceeded to a jury trial but the parties ultimately  


stipulated that Reid "is mentally ill" and as a result, "he is likely to cause harm to himself  



or  others."              The  superior  court  signed  an  order  for  a  90-day  commitment  in  

October 2013.  

                       Reid  now  appeals  the  superior  court's  30-day  commitment  order  in  

August 2013 and asks us to reverse and vacate the order.  

            3          We may take judicial notice of Reid's stipulation on the record and the   

accompanying 90-day commitment order, both of which were entered subsequent to the   

superior court's 30-day commitment order.                                  See Alaska R. Evid. 201; Gilbert M. v. State,  

139 P.3d 581, 583 n.3 (Alaska 2006) (taking judicial notice of a party's conviction and                          

sentence, which were not part of trial court record, under Alaska Evidence Rules 201 and   


                                                                         -7-                                                                  7051

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------



                    Whether an issue is moot is a "matter of judicial policy and . . . a question  


of law" to which we apply our independent judgment.    


          A.	       Reid's Appellate Claims Are Barred On Procedural Grounds Because  


                    His Case Is Moot And Not Subject To Any Mootness Exception.  

                    "A claim is moot if it is no longer a present, live controversy, and the party  

bringing  the  action  would  not  be  entitled  to  relief,  even  if  it  prevails.    Appeals  of  

commitment orders that are based on assertions of insufficient evidence are moot if the  


commitment period has passed, subject to two exceptions:  the public interest exception  



and the collateral consequences exception."   Reid argues that both mootness exceptions  


apply  here.    We  conclude  that  Reid's  arguments  are  moot  because  the  period  of  

commitment under the 30-day order has expired and neither mootness exception applies,6  

          4	        In re Joan K. , 273 P.3d 594, 595-96 (Alaska 2012).  

          5         In re Mark V. , 324 P.3d 840, 843 (Alaska 2014) (quoting                                  Wetherhorn v.  

Alaska Psychiatric Inst. , 156 P.3d 371, 380 (Alaska 2007)) (internal quotation marks  




                    Reid requests that if we find his appeal is not subject to either mootness  

exception  that  we  remand  "for  consideration  of  whether  Reid  received  ineffective  

assistance  of  counsel  and  stay  his  appeal  pending  resolution  of  that  issue."    Reid  

questions  "whether  [he]  received  effective  assistance  of  counsel  when  entering  the  


90-day  stipulation."    "When  we  review  the  question  whether  a  litigant  has  raised  


successfully an ineffective assistance challenge, we apply [a] two-pronged test . . . .  


Under the first prong, the litigant must show that her attorney's performance was below  


a level that any reasonably  competent attorney would provide, bearing in mind that  


reasonable tactical decisions are virtually immune from subsequent challenge even if, in  


hindsight, better approaches could have been taken. Under the second prong, the litigant  


must demonstrate that counsel's improved performance would have affected the outcome  

of the case."   Chloe W. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's  



                                                               -8-	                                                        7051

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

and thus affirm the superior court's order.  

                    1.        The public interest exception to mootness does not apply.  


                    We will consider a question that is otherwise moot if the question "falls  



within the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine."                                  Three factors govern  


whether  the  public  interest  exception  applies:    "(1)  whether  the  disputed  issues  are  


capable of repetition, (2) whether the mootness doctrine, if applied, may cause review  


of the issues to be repeatedly circumvented, and (3) whether the issues presented are so  



important to the public interest as to justify overriding the mootness doctrine." 

on his substantive challenges, Reid argues that all three factors of the public interest  

exception to mootness are met here.  


                    First, Reid argues that the disputed issues are likely to recur because he  

challenges the methods his doctors used to form their professional opinions and those  


methods are not unique to the facts of this case.  He also asserts that "such questions will  

recur  and  will  otherwise  evade  appellate  review  due  to  the  quick  expiration  of  

commitment orders."  Finally, Reid notes that we have previously applied the exception  


to  commitment  appeals  that  raise  questions  of  statutory  interpretation  and  are  thus  


Servs., 336 P.3d 1258, 1265 (Alaska 2014) (quoting Chloe O. v. State, Dep't of Health  


& Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs., 309 P.3d 850, 858-59 (Alaska 2013)) (internal  


quotation marks and citation omitted).  Here, Reid fails to explain how his attorney's  


performance in entering the stipulation fell below the level that a reasonably competent  


attorney  would  provide  and  thus  has  not  satisfied  the  first  prong  of  establishing  


ineffective assistance of counsel.  We therefore decline his invitation to remand the case  

rather than dismissing the appeal as moot.  

          7         Wetherhorn, 156 P.3d at 380.  

          8         Akpik v. State, Office of Mgmt. & Budget , 115 P.3d 532, 535 (Alaska 2005)  

(quoting Kodiak Seafood Processors Ass'n v. State , 900 P.2d 1191, 1196 (Alaska 1995)).  

                                                              -9-                                                        7051

----------------------- Page 10-----------------------



important to the public interest.                   Reid argues that his appeal "raises important questions  


concerning how the 'harm to others' and 'least restrictive alternative' provisions of the  


commitment statutes should  be  interpreted," and thus meets the third public interest  


exception factor.  The State counters that the public interest exception "does not apply  


because unlike appeals raising matters of statutory interpretation, Reid's appeal presents  

a discrete challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence."  


                     Reid challenges the superior court's finding that he was likely to cause  


harm to others in the future.  He argues that "[t]he trial court clearly erred in [finding]  


that [he] was likely to harm others given the lack of reliability of clinical predictions; the  


court's improper reliance on medication noncompliance as a factor in the commitment  


decision;  and  the  speculative  and  attenuated  connection  between  marijuana  use  and  



                     In particular, Reid challenges the sufficiency of the evidence based on the  


alleged unreliability of the unstructured clinical risk assessments used by Dr. Dase and  

Dr. Sonkiss to predict that Reid was likely to harm others, as well as their citation of  


studies  showing  a  link  between  marijuana  use  and  increased  risk  of  violence  in  

schizophrenics. Reid's arguments turn on factual questions regarding the reliability of  


clinical  tests  and  marijuana  studies,  not  questions  of  statutory  interpretation,  as  he  


suggests.  Reid points to no statutory language to suggest that the legislature sought to  


disallow this type of evidence.  And the trial court is the most appropriate forum in which  

to  evaluate  and  weigh  competing  fact-based  arguments  regarding  the  reliability  of  



                     See Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Inst., 208 P.3d 168, 179, 183-84 (Alaska  

2009); E.P. v. Alaska Psychiatric Inst., 205 P.3d 1101, 1107 (Alaska 2009).  

                                                                 -10-                                                                7051  

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------


evidence showing that an individual is likely to harm others.                              Reid's appeal is thus not  


subject to the public interest exception.  

                   2.	       The  collateral  consequences  exception  to  mootness  does  not  


                   In In re Joan K ., we adopted the collateral consequences exception as a  

second exception to mootness in the involuntary commitment context.11  This exception  

"allows  courts  to  decide  otherwise-moot  cases  when  a  judgment  may  carry  indirect  


consequences in addition to its direct force, either as a matter of legal rules or as a matter  


                                 We recognized that involuntary commitment may carry various  

of practical effect."                   

collateral  consequences,  including  "social  stigma,  adverse  employment  restrictions,  


application  in  future  legal  proceedings,  and  restrictions  on  the  right  to  possess  



                   Joan K. held that collateral consequences can be presumed for "a person's  



first  involuntary  commitment  order."                        We  reasoned  that  some  number  of  prior  

involuntary  commitments  beyond  an  individual's  first  commitment  "would  likely  

eliminate   the   possibility   of   additional   collateral   consequences,   precluding   the  


                                              We  suggested  in  In  re  Mark  V.  that  there  may  be  


[exception's]  application." 

          10       See   State  v.  Coon,  974  P.2d  386,  396  (Alaska  1999)  ("Determining  

reliability for judicial purposes is unavoidably the responsibility of trial courts . . . .").  

          11	      273 P.3d 594, 597-98 (Alaska 2012).  



                   Id.  at 597-98 (quoting Peter A. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs.,  

Office of Children's Servs., 146 P.3d 991, 994-95 (Alaska 2006)).  

          13       Id. at 597 (citations omitted).   

          14       Id. at 598.  

          15       Id.   

                                                            -11-	                                                      7051

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

"incrementally significant collateral consequences" to commitments that occur after an                            

individual's  first  commitment,  but  reasoned  that  appellants  must  show  a  "plausible  

likelihood" of such additional collateral consequences.16  


                     The State argues that Reid's 90-day commitment renders his appeal moot  


because "there is no longer any indication that the 30-day commitment order will cause  

Reid to suffer any independent or readily cognizable added collateral consequences"  


because any consequences "now presumably attach with equal force to Reid's 90-day  


commitment  order."    Reid  responds  that  there  are  "incrementally  significant"  and  


discrete collateral consequences that attach to the 30-day order as opposed to the 90-day  


order, based on a perceived distinction between the judicial determination made after the  

contested 30-day hearing and the judicial determination based on Reid's stipulation at  

the 90-day hearing.   


                     But any consequences arising from Reid's 30-day commitment order are  

subsumed within his subsequent 90-day commitment order, which were both adjudicated  

orders.  This conclusion may have been different if Reid had voluntarily committed  

himself for the 90 days of treatment, but he did not:   His 90-day commitment was the  


product of a court process that was ultimately resolved by Reid stipulating to the findings  


necessary for a court-ordered commitment.  There is no meaningful distinction between  


the collateral consequences arising from a trial court's commitment order that is based  


on the court's factual findings after a contested hearing and the consequences arising  


from a trial court's commitment order that is based on facts stipulated by the parties.  


Thus Reid's 30-day commitment, which was the result of the trial court's factual finding,  

carries the same consequences as his 90-day commitment, where the trial court's findings  


were  based  on  Reid's  factual  stipulations.    As  a  result,  the  collateral  consequences  

          16         324 P.3d 840, 845 (Alaska 2014).  

                                                                -12-                                                              7051  

----------------------- Page 13-----------------------


exception does not apply to Reid's appeal of the 30-day order, and his claims are thus  

barred on mootness grounds.  


          B.	       Challenges  To  Expired  Commitment  Orders  Are  Generally Moot  


                    Under  Wetherhorn, And Thus It Is Best Practice For The State To  

                    Move  To  Dismiss  Such  Challenges  As  Moot  Before  Proceeding  To  

                    Appellate Briefing.  


                    This case centered on Reid's appeal of a commitment order, which the State  


first challenged as moot in its appellee's brief.  As a result, Reid did not have a chance  


to try to demonstrate that his claims are not moot or that they fall within an exception to  


the mootness doctrine until his reply brief.  This is problematic because in order for the  

collateral consequences exception to mootness to apply, appellants have the burden to  


show that the commitment they are challenging is their first commitment, or that other  


incrementally significant consequences flow from it.                                

                    To avoid the procedural challenges that result when the State does not raise  


mootness arguments until its appellee's brief, we take this opportunity to clarify best  


practices regarding appeals of commitment orders.  In Wetherhorn v. Alaska Psychiatric  


Institute we held that appeals of commitment orders based on insufficient evidence are  

                                                                                  18  In many, if not most cases, the  

generally moot after the commitment period has passed.                                  

court can determine whether there is a live controversy prior to briefing on the substance  


          17        See  In  re  Dakota  K.,  ___  P.3d  ___,  Op.  No.  7041  at  8-10,  2015  WL  

5061844, at *3-4 (Alaska Aug. 28, 2015).  Though Dakota K. had not been decided  


before  Reid's  briefings  and  oral  argument,  our  holding  in  Dakota  K. ,  setting  forth  


appellant's burden to demonstrate that the  commitment he is challenging is his first  


commitment would not have affected the outcome of this case:  The record shows that  


Reid faced a 30-day commitment in August 2013 and a subsequent 90-day commitment  

in October 2013, and thus it is now irrelevant whether his August 2013 commitment was  


his first.  

          18         156 P.3d 371, 380 (Alaska 2007).  

                                                              -13-	                                                        7051

----------------------- Page 14-----------------------


of the appeal.   It is thus the best practice for the State to move to dismiss appeals of  


commitment orders as moot before briefing commences when no mootness exception is  


readily  apparent.               Therefore, when the State first receives a notice of appeal of an  


expired  commitment  order  that  does  not  otherwise  present  a  live  controversy,  if  it  


                                                                                            it should move to dismiss the  

believes that the claims are moot under  Wetherhorn 


appeal as moot prior to briefing.  The person challenging the commitment then has the  


burden to demonstrate whether a mootness exception exists before briefing underlying  

substantive issues.  We can then either determine whether there is a live controversy  


prior to briefing on the substantive issues or deny the State's motion without prejudice  

to  the  parties'  ability  to  further  develop  and  discuss  mootness  in  their  subsequent  



                      This procedure has the potential to save scarce public attorney and judicial  


resources by avoiding merits-based briefing when appeals must ultimately be dismissed  


on procedural mootness grounds.  Moreover, it puts the appellant in the best position to  


prove facts regarding whether the commitment is his first or whether any other mootness  


exception applies, and it gives the State an opportunity to rebut those claims.  Otherwise,  


if the State waits until its appellee's brief to raise mootness issues, it will be unable to  


respond to any claims the appellant makes in its reply brief.  We hope that setting out  

           19         Cf. Dakota K., Op. No. 7041 at 9-10, 2015 WL 5061844, at *4 (holding that                    

if a patient "files an appeal challenging the commitment order on sufficiency of evidence   

grounds, the State can file a motion to dismiss based on mootness, and the respondent  

would then have the burden of making some evidentiary showing either that this was the  


first  involuntary  commitment  or  that  there  is  some  other  factual  basis  for  claiming  

collateral consequences").  



                      This court can stay the normal briefing schedule as soon as a motion to  

dismiss is filed.  

                                                                    -14-                                                               7051

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------

these best practices will allow all parties to address and focus on the multiple dimensions   

of an appeal of a commitment order in a more efficient and complete manner.  

V.         CONCLUSION  

                     Because   Reid's   appeal   is   moot   and   not   subject   to   the   collateral  

consequences  or  public  interest  exceptions  to  the  mootness  doctrine,  the  appeal  is  


                                                                     -15-                                                          7051

Case Law
Statutes, Regs & Rules

IT Advice, Support, Data Recovery & Computer Forensics.
(907) 338-8188

Please help us support these and other worthy organizations:
Law Project for Psychiatraic Rights