Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re E.C.

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Plymouth

August 3, 2016

IN THE MATTER OF E.C.

          Heard: May 11, 2016.

         Petition for civil commitment filed in the Brockton Division of the District Court Department on March 4, 2013.

         The case was heard by Beverly J. Cannone, J., and a motion for reconsideration was also heard by her.

          Edward J. O'Donnell for the petitioner.

          Joseph A. Robinson, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the respondent.

          Present: Grainger, Meade, & Hanlon, JJ.

          MEADE, J.

         Following a hearing pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 16(b), a judge of the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department (BMC) found E.C. incompetent to stand trial and committed him to Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH) for six months. After the § 16(b) commitment expired and the underlying criminal charges against E.C. were dismissed, a judge of the Brockton Division of the District Court Department (Brockton District Court) denied BSH's timely petition to extend the commitment under G. L. c. 123, § 16(c) . The judge also denied BSH's motion to amend that petition to one pursuant to G. L. c. 123, §§ 7 and 8, seeking continued civil commitment of a mentally ill person whose discharge from BSH would create a likelihood of serious harm. The Appellate Division of the District Court affirmed. On appeal, BSH claims error in the denial of the original and amended petitions. We reverse.

         Background.

         The material facts are not in dispute. On May 30, 2012, E.C. was charged in the BMC with malicious destruction of property having a value greater than $250 in violation of G. L. c. 266, § 127. Following a hearing pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 15 (a), a judge ordered E.C. hospitalized pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 15(b), in order to evaluate his competency to stand trial. Based on the resulting § 15(b) report, the judge on August 7, 2012, found E.C. incompetent to stand trial. Thereafter, pursuant to BSH's G. L. c. 123, § 16(b), petition, E.C. was committed to BSH for six months.[1]

         As the expiration of the G. L. c. 123, § 16(b), commitment drew near, on March 4, 2013, BSH petitioned in Brockton District Court, [2] pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 16(c), for E.C.'s further commitment. On March 7, 2013, when the initial six-month § 16(b) commitment expired, [3] but prior to the hearing on BSH's § 16(c) petition, the criminal charge pending in the BMC against E.C. was dismissed over the Commonwealth's objection. Shortly after the dismissal, BSH filed a motion in the Brockton District Court to amend its § 16(c) petition to one pursuant to G. L. c. 123, §§ 7 and 8. On March 20, 2013, the judge denied the motion to amend and determined that, following the dismissal of the criminal case, the § 16(c) petition could "no longer serve as a valid basis to detain [E.C.]." The judge also concluded that after the criminal charge was dismissed, BSH lacked a valid basis to retain E.C. and therefore could not pursue his commitment under §§ 7 and 8 because he was no longer a patient. The judge denied BSH's subsequent motion for reconsideration. As a result, E.C. was immediately released from BSH.[4]

         BSH appealed the judge's orders to the Appellate Division of the District Court, which affirmed. In affirming the judge's decisions, the Appellate Division determined that the dismissal of the criminal charge against E.C. terminated BSH's authority to proceed against him under G. L. c. 123, § 16(c), because the "issue of E.C.'s competenc[y] was no longer before the court once the criminal case was dismissed."

         The Appellate Division relied on G. L. c. 123, § 16(b), which provides for continued commitment of a defendant following the dismissal of criminal charges, and determined that G. L.c. 123, § 16(c), which contains no such reference, does not similarly apply. Therefore, the Appellate Division determined that a pending criminal charge was a prerequisite for continued retention, and applied that reasoning to § 16 (c) to conclude that BSH could not pursue further commitment following the dismissal of E.C.'s charge. As BSH had moved to amend its petition from one under § 16(c) to one under G. L. c. 123, §§ 7 and 8, the Appellate Division suggested that BSH recognized this prerequisite. In the end, the Appellate Division affirmed, reasoning that once the § 16(b) commitment period had run, BSH lacked the authority to detain E.C. because he was no longer a "patient" and, therefore, could not be subject to a petition pursuant to §§ 7 and 8.

         In addition, the Appellate Division held there was no support in the record for BSH's argument that the BMC judge expected that E.C. would remain at BSH pending the hearing on the G. L. c. 123, § 16(c), petition. Although the Appellate Division acknowledged the logistical issues BSH faced in being informed of the status of criminal charges where BSH itself is not a party to those proceedings, the court nevertheless agreed that the statutory framework did not allow for E.C.'s continuing commitment under § 16(c) or §§ 7 and 8. This appeal followed.

         D ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.