IN RE: SAMUEL D. (Anonymous)

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

IN RE: SAMUEL D. (Anonymous), Appellant; v. MID–HUDSON FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIC CENTER, Respondent.

2018–06434

Decided: April 24, 2019

JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, J.P., SYLVIA O. HINDS–RADIX, BETSY BARROS, FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ. Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Garden City, N.Y. (Michael D. Neville, Michael E. Recco, and Dennis B. Feld of counsel), for appellant. Letitia James, Attorney General, New York, N.Y. (Anisha S. Dasgupta, Matthew W. Grieco, and Caroline Olsen of counsel), for respondent.

DECISION & ORDER

In a proceeding for permission to administer a course of medication to a patient without his consent, Samuel D. appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Orange County (Nicholas DeRosa, J.), dated December 6, 2017, which, after a hearing, granted the petition.

ORDERED that the order is modified, on the facts, by deleting the provisions thereof authorizing the administration of Valproic Acid and Benztropine;  as so modified, the order is affirmed, without costs or disbursements.

In or around November 2017, the petitioner commenced this proceeding for authorization to administer a course of medication to Samuel D., a patient at a secure psychiatric facility, without his consent.  Following a hearing, the Supreme Court issued an order authorizing the petitioner to administer the proposed course of medication over Samuel D.'s objection.  Samuel D. appeals.

The State may administer a course of medical treatment against a patient's will if it establishes, by clear and convincing evidence, that the patient lacks the capacity to make a reasoned decision with respect to proposed treatment (see Rivers v. Katz, 67 N.Y.2d 485, 497, 504 N.Y.S.2d 74, 495 N.E.2d 337), and that “the proposed treatment is narrowly tailored to give substantive effect to the patient's liberty interest, taking into consideration all relevant circumstances, including the patient's best interests, the benefits to be gained from the treatment, the adverse side effects associated with the treatment and any less intrusive alternative treatments” (id. at 497–498, 504 N.Y.S.2d 74, 495 N.E.2d 337;  see Matter of Adam K., 110 A.D.3d 168, 172, 970 N.Y.S.2d 297).  Whether a mentally ill patient has the capacity to make a reasoned decision with respect to treatment is a question of fact for the hearing court, the credibility findings of which are entitled to due deference (see Matter of Radcliffe M., 155 A.D.3d 956, 957, 65 N.Y.S.3d 227;  Matter of Harvey S., 38 A.D.3d 906, 907, 837 N.Y.S.2d 155;  Matter of William S., 31 A.D.3d 567, 568, 817 N.Y.S.2d 674).

Here, the petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence that Samuel D. lacks the capacity to make a reasoned decision with respect to the proposed course of medication (see Matter of Jay S. [Barber], 118 A.D.3d 803, 804, 988 N.Y.S.2d 68;  Matter of William S., 31 A.D.3d at 568, 817 N.Y.S.2d 674;  Matter of Simone D., 32 A.D.3d 931, 933, 821 N.Y.S.2d 248, affd 9 N.Y.3d 828, 842 N.Y.S.2d 758, 874 N.E.2d 722;  Matter of Mary Ann D., 179 A.D.2d 724, 578 N.Y.S.2d 622).  Further, the petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed course of treatment with respect to the medications Risperdal and Olanzapine was narrowly tailored to give substantive effect to Samuel D.'s liberty interest, taking into consideration all relevant circumstances, including his best interests, the benefits to be gained from the treatment, the adverse side effects associated with the treatment, and any less intrusive alternative treatments (see Rivers v. Katz, 67 N.Y.2d at 497–498, 504 N.Y.S.2d 74, 495 N.E.2d 337;  Matter of Beverly F. [Creedmoor Psychiatric Ctr.], 150 A.D.3d 998, 55 N.Y.S.3d 331;  Matter of William S., 31 A.D.3d at 568, 817 N.Y.S.2d 674).

However, the petitioner failed to offer sufficient evidence at the hearing to establish by clear and convincing evidence its entitlement to medicate Samuel D. with Valproic Acid and Benztropine over his objection (see Matter of Radcliffe M., 155 A.D.3d at 958, 65 N.Y.S.3d 227).  The minimal evidence presented at the hearing regarding these medications was insufficient for the petitioner to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed course of treatment with respect to these medications was narrowly tailored to give substantive effect to Samuel D.'s liberty interest.  Accordingly, the provisions of the order authorizing the administration of Valproic Acid and Benztropine over Samuel D.'s objection must be deleted.  We note that our determination is without prejudice to the commencement of a new proceeding (see id.).

Finally, contrary to Samuel D.'s contention, a nondurational order is appropriate under the circumstances presented (see id. at 958–959, 65 N.Y.S.3d 227;  Matter of Mary Ann D., 179 A.D.2d at 725, 578 N.Y.S.2d 622;  Matter of McConnell, 147 A.D.2d 881, 882–883, 538 N.Y.S.2d 101).

LEVENTHAL, J.P., HINDS–RADIX, BARROS and CONNOLLY, JJ., concur.

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