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Gertie Lee Anderson Appellant
vs.
David Doth Commissioner of Human Services Respondent.
 
Case:
C7-96-1693
 
Location:
COURT OF APPEALS OF MINNESOTA
 
Attorneys:
Raymond A. Wood Suite One Iris Park Place 1885 University Avenue St. Paul MN 55104 (for Appellant). Michael O. Freeman Hennepin County Counsel E. George Widseth Assistant County Counsel A-2000 Government Center Minneapolis MN 55487 (for Respondent Hennepin County).
Hubert H. Humphrey III Counsel General Jacqueline M. Moen Assistant Counsel General 445 Minnesota Street Suite 900 St. Paul MN 55101-2127 (for Respondent Commissioner of Human Services).
 
Court:
Considered and decided by Crippen Presiding Justice, Kalitowski, Justice and Harten, Justice.
 
Author:
The Hon. Justice Crippen
 

Appellant Gertie Anderson petitioned for full discharge from her indeterminate commitment as mentally ill and dangerous. When the Commissioner of Human Services denied her request she petitioned for rehearing and reconsideration before the judicial appeal panel. At the close of appellant's case the appeal panel granted the Commissioner's motion to dismiss. We affirm.

FACTS

Appellant's initial commitment followed her knife attack on a loss prevention officer who tried to apprehend her for shoplifting. Appellant was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type polysubstance abuse and dependence and antisocial personality disorder.

In November 1994 appellant pleaded guilty to assault for the knifing incident and was incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee. She is eligible for supervised release in March 1997 and her sentence expires early in 1999.

Appellant petitioned the special review board for discharge from her commitment. The board recommended that the petition for full discharge be denied but that appellant should be provisionally discharged to a halfway house upon completion of her sentence. The Commissioner of Human Services then denied her petition for full discharge.

Appellant petitioned the judicial appeal panel for rehearing and reconsideration. Testimony was presented describing appellant's proposed plan for her supervised release upon discharge from the correctional facility. It would require that she participate in support groups attend a stress management program as necessary take random urinalysis tests meet with a psychologist and case manager weekly reside at transitional housing obtain full-time employment and maintain a chemically-free lifestyle. While in prison appellant completed a chemical dependency course and a relapse prevention plan and the prison assessment report did not recommend that she complete a formal chemical dependency treatment program.

Dr. Ray Conroe Court-appointed examiner diagnosed appellant with bipolar disorder not otherwise specified in remission possible cocaine and alcohol abuse in remission and antisocial personality traits versus antisocial personality disorder. Appellant has not displayed symptoms of her bipolar disorder since March 1994 and has not received medication to treat her mental illness since October 1995. She has been chemically free since her commitment.

Dr. Conroe believed discharge would be appropriate considering the supervised release plan available through the corrections system. Appellant is capable of making an acceptable adjustment to society does not need further inpatient treatment and is not a danger to the public. With the prison discharge plans tentatively in place Conroe would have no concerns if appellant received a full discharge.

After appellant presented this evidence her petition was dismissed on the motion of the Commissioner of Human Services.

DECISION

The appeal panel's dismissal at the close of appellant's case is comparable to an involuntary dismissal under Minn. R. Civ. P. 41.02(b). Thus we address whether the finding that the criteria for discharge have not been met is clearly erroneous. T.P.B. Properties v. Coldwell Banker & Co. 354 N.W.2d 102 105 (Minn. App. 1984).

Before discharge is appropriate the patient must be capable of adjusting to open society no longer dangerous to the public and no longer in need of inpatient supervision and treatment. Minn. Stat. SEC. 253B.18 subd. 15 (1994). While the appeal panel recognized that appellant's condition was in remission and commended her efforts it affirmed the Commissioner's denial of the petition. It found no professional support in the record for full discharge noting Court-appointed examiner felt that discharge must be with conditions which included residing at the highly structured community facility.

Appellant argues that she proved by a preponderance of the evidence that she met the statutory criteria for discharge citing the remission of her symptoms Dr. Conroe's testimony and testimony as to her release plan.

Dr. Conroe endorsed discharge with the proposed supervised release plan. While the record shows appellant is not presently dangerous and her mental illness is in remission she is not capable of being placed in open society without supervision. There is no assurance the corrections plan would provide the mental health assistance that a provisional discharge plan under the commitment act would or allow rehospitalization if necessary if appellant's mental health failed. Further the plan while detailed is still tentative and would in any event expire in 1999 upon completion of appellant's sentence. The appeal panel was not clearly erroneous in determining that appellant did not meet her initial burden of showing the discharge standards were met.

Appellant argues that Minn. Stat. SEC. 253B.18 subd. 15 supports a full discharge with conditions. She cites the fact that in addition to the three discharge factors another consideration is whether "specific conditions exist to provide a reasonable degree of protection to the public and to assist the patient in adjusting to the community." Minn. Stat. SEC. 253B.18 subd. 15. She contends that the supervised release plan meets such conditions making full discharge appropriate.

The appeal panel properly found there was no support for a "conditional full discharge." A person who is discharged subject to conditions has been given a "provisional discharge." Minn. Stat. SEC. 253B.18 subd. 7. A provisional discharge plan must be developed implemented and monitored by a designated social service agency with quarterly reports to the Commissioner and treatment facility. Id. subd. 8; see Minn. Stat. SEC. 253B.02 subd. 5 (defining "designated agency" as one selected by the county board to provide social services required under chapter 253B). A patient may then be fully discharged only by going through the discharge procedure in subdivision 15. A full discharge "with conditions" established by the correctional facility pursuant to supervised release from prison is not provided for in the statute. See Lidberg v. Steffen 514 N.W.2d 779 783 (Minn. 1994) (discussing importance of provisional discharge procedure as a means to permit adjustment to open society without sacrificing public safety concerns). As the appeal panel also found no provisional discharge plan has been presented here.

Finally appellant argues that the appeal panel failed to make findings on whether she met the statutory criteria for discharge. She contends the decision should be reversed or remanded for further findings because it fails to discuss the basis for the decision in sufficient detail. See Drewes v. Levine 352 N.W.2d 456 459 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding where record order and memorandum do not show whether panel considered legislatively-specified factors and grounds for decision not clearly identified remand is necessary).

In this case the appeal panel found there was no evidence to support full discharge without conditions which is supported by the record. The findings are adequate to show that the panel properly identified and determined the proposition that full discharge could be premised on a correctional discharge plan. The panel need not recite a specific statutory standard where the evidence shows the factfinder considered the standard and that it was met. See In re Blodgett 510 N.W.2d 910 917 (Minn.) (finding that although findings do not specifically refer to standard record shows standard considered by trial court) cert. denied 115 S. Ct. 146 (1994).