The State of Texas for the Best Interest and Protection of R.J.R.Appeal from County Court at Law of Lamar County (Memorandum Opinion By Chief Justice Iii Morriss)
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Court of Appeals
Sixth Appellate District of Texas at Texarkana
THE STATE OF TEXAS FOR THE BEST INTEREST
AND PROTECTION OF R.J.R.
On Appeal from the County Court at Law
Lamar County, Texas
Trial Court No. 123-13
Before Morriss, C.J., Carter and Moseley, JJ.
Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice Morriss
R.J.R.âÄôs bizarre behavior at Paris Junior College resulted in a jury trial on the StateâÄôs
request for his involuntary commitment as an inpatient for mental health treatment and an order
that he be given psychoactive drugs in his treatment. The State proved, and the jury found,
some, not all, of the elements to allow involuntary inpatient mental health treatment for R.J.R.
The trial court ordered involuntary inpatient treatment and the administration of psychoactive
R.J.R.âÄôs appeal challenges the judgment both as to the inpatient treatment and the
psychoactive drugs. We reverse the judgment of the trial court, because (1) involuntary inpatient
mental health treatment is not supported by the evidence and (2) the ordered administration of
psychoactive drugs must fall with the inpatient commitment order.
Involuntary Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Is Not Supported by the Evidence
On November 1, 2012, R.J.R. was using a computer at the Paris Junior College Library,
reportedly to access Match.com, a dating website. After experiencing computer problems, he
went to confront the Dean to inform him that library employees were âÄúsabotaging my computer
. . . because of my religion.âÄĚ There is some suggestion that the meeting did not produce the
result sought by R.J.R., that he got agitated and raised his voice, and that security was called.
Paris Police Lieutenant James Mazy testified that he responded to a request for assistance
placed by Shane Boatwright, Paris Junior CollegeâÄôs chief of police. Mazy joined BoatwrightâÄôs
chase of R.J.R., warning him to stop. Instead of complying with MazyâÄôs command, R.J.R. used
a telephone pole to âÄúsling himself aroundâÄĚ and âÄúhead butted Lieutenant Mazy in the side.âÄĚ
Mazy testified that he was in extreme pain and had suffered a contusion after he had been âÄúhead
butted.âÄĚ R.J.R. was âÄúholleringâÄĚ and resisting officersâÄô efforts to handcuff him. Captain Terry
Bull testified that, on the day of the incident, R.J.R. was carrying âÄúa butcher knife or a kitchen
knifeâÄĚ with a blade that was âÄú[s]ix and three quarter inchesâÄĚ long. R.J.R. was charged with
After it was established that R.J.R. believed âÄúhis computer at Paris Junior College [was]
sabotaged and that people [were] constantly trying to provoke or plot against himâÄĚ and that he
âÄústruck a law enforcement officer after the officer attempted to make contact with him because
he believed that the law enforcement officer was going to attack him,âÄĚ Dr. David Bell was hired
to conduct a competency and insanity evaluation. R.J.R. âÄúmailed numerous journal entries . . . to
Dr. Bell requesting that Dr. Bell read it before his appointment.âÄĚ In a January 23, 2013, letter to
Bell, R.J.R. complained about BellâÄôs âÄúfalse diagnosisâÄĚ and made further allegations:
[M]any Public Officials had False Arrested ME in order to Provoke ME to Anger,
Taunt ME to Anger, Entrapment and Character Assassination against ME. And
this should also prove to You that the Public Officials are all protecting each other
in order to coverup their âÄúReligious Discrimination.âÄĚ
In an October 2012 journal entry, after witnessing a woman whom he believed he had seen on
Match.com walking with âÄúa Black Boyfriend,âÄĚ R.J.R. wrote, âÄú[T]his Institution of Civil Society
is secretly, subtly, and Intentionally manipulating, sabotaging and setting ME up by Destroying
all my âÄėBeautiful RelationshipsâÄô on (www.Match.com) . . . .âÄĚ The journal entries also expressed
his belief that he was being watched and followed by Paris Junior College employees and by
employees and âÄúagentsâÄĚ of a local grocery store. R.J.R. closed his journal entries with the
notation âÄúPersecuted, Tortured, Starved, Mal-Nourished, Drug[g]ed, Poisoned, Blacklisted,
Manipulated, Sabotaged and Setup.âÄĚ
During a February 20, 2013, insanity evaluation of R.J.R., Bell wrote that R.J.R. âÄústated
that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,âÄĚ âÄúwas in 5 mental hospitals and . . . the hospitals put
antipsychotic medication in his food,âÄĚ and âÄúbelieves that people are constantly trying to provoke
him and plot against him.âÄĚ According to Bell, R.J.R. described the incident that led to his arrest:
He says that he . . . left the DeanâÄôs office when he was confronted by a security
guard who chased him. He stated that he became frightened and ran; then a SUV
with âÄúSheriffâÄĚ on the side pulled up and persons in plain clothing stepped out and
threatened him with their fists. He then struck the person, who was of course a
sheriffs [sic] deputy. He admitted grudgingly that the persons could have been
sheriffs [sic] deputies and was aware that not all police uniforms are blue. He
appeared evasive on this point and to only grudgingly admit that the persons
could have been police.
[R.J.R.] stated that he believes that police frequently observe him when he is
walking around town. He has a number of similar beliefs that could be
characterized as paranoid. In addition his belief that his computer at Paris
[J]unior [C]ollege was sabotaged appears to be a paranoid delusion.
He spends a lot of time writing in journals, and he brought a number of journals
with him. The overriding theme of these journals is that he is not mentally ill and
that he has been wronged by society. He appears to feel entitled to inheriting his
fatherâÄôs farm, and to a devoted wife, since he lost those things in the past. This
type of journaling is typical for a paranoid individual.
After finding that R.J.R. was insane at the time of the offense, Bell opined,
I believe that [R.J.R.] is dangerous. He harbors extensive paranoid delusions
about others and he has now shown himself capable of aggressive behavior. He
has approached public officials in a way that made them perceive that he needed
to be detained. This includes the PJC Dean, the security personnel, and the
sheriffs [sic] department. It is possible that he could plot revenge of some kind on
a number of persons including family members, the police, Paris Junior College
personnel, or others.
I believe that he should be committed for treatment.
R.J.R., who was found competent to stand trial by Bell, was found not guilty of evading arrest or
detention by reason of insanity April 16, 2013.
On April 17, 2013, the State filed an application for court-ordered temporary mental
health services, which was supported by two physicianâÄôs certificates of medical examination for
mental illness. Dr. Raza Sayed examined R.J.R. on April 17, diagnosed him with âÄúpsychosis
disorder not otherwise specified,âÄĚ stated that R.J.R. is âÄúparanoid,âÄĚ and recommended inpatient
treatment. Dr. Fernando M. Siles diagnosed R.J.R. with âÄúparanoid disorder,âÄĚ stated that R.J.R.
was âÄúin denial about his mental illness,âÄĚ and concluded that R.J.R. had âÄúsevere mental illness
with paranoia and violent tendenciesâÄĚ and that he needed to be in a âÄúsafe hospital environment.âÄĚ
On the same day, the trial court issued an order of protective custody ordering that R.J.R. be
taken to Glen Oaks Hospital, determining that âÄúan adequate factual basis exists for probable
cause to believe that [R.J.R.] (Proposed Patient) presents a substantial risk of serious harm to self
or others, such that the Proposed Patient cannot be at liberty pending the commitment hearing.âÄĚ
The commitment hearing was conducted in front of a jury May 10, 2013. Sayed testified
he treated R.J.R. during his stay at Glen Oaks Hospital. After SayedâÄôs certificate of medical
examination was admitted as an exhibit, he testified that the diagnosis âÄúcan be defined as a
temporary loss of touch with reality.âÄĚ Based on R.J.R.âÄôs conversations, Sayed believed he was
âÄúat imminent risk of harm so he needed stabilization.âÄĚ During R.J.R.âÄôs stay at Glen Oaks
Hospital, Sayed wanted to treat him with antipsychotic medication, but R.J.R. âÄúrefused
treatmentâÄĚ and did not participate in stress management activities âÄúbecause in his belief he was
not mentally ill.âÄĚ
Nevertheless, Sayed testified, âÄú[O]ver the course of his stay at the hospital his paranoia
appeared to subside in its intensity, and he did not show any overt acts of violence . . . and did
not make any further threats of violence against himself or anyone else.âÄĚ In fact, R.J.R.âÄôs âÄúlevel
of psychosis appeared to reduce even without medication treatment.âÄĚ Accordingly, R.J.R. was
discharged from Glen Oaks Hospital on April 29, 2013.
Sayed warned, however, that it would be possible that R.J.R.âÄôs psychosis could âÄúspike
again.âÄĚ He clarified that, while âÄúthe standard that is used for a forced medication petition to be
pursued was not met in the fact that he had not shown . . . imminent risk of harm,âÄĚ it was in
R.J.R.âÄôs âÄúbest interest to stay in treatment.âÄĚ Sayed testified that he would not release someone
who was a danger to themselves.
Siles testified that, as R.J.R.âÄôs stress level decreased, his mental state could improve
without medication. He also confirmed that R.J.R. was âÄúnot showing any evidence of imminent
risk o[f] harm to self or othersâÄĚ when the decision was made to discharge him. On May 2, 2013,
a crisis assessment at Lakes Regional Mental Health Center also determined that R.J.R. âÄúdoes
not pose as a threat to himself or others at this time.âÄĚ
The jury next heard from Bell. Bell has a doctorate in psychology, but is âÄúnot a medical
doctorâÄĚ and is not licensed to practice medicine in Texas. He had never reviewed any of R.J.R.âÄôs
medical records and did not conduct any testing during the sanity and competency evaluations.
Nevertheless, Bell testified that, in his âÄúmedical opinion,âÄĚ R.J.R. would not see improvement
with treatment without medication. Bell also claimed that R.J.R. was a danger to himself and
others and would require medication to âÄúpush the delusions into the background so that the
person is no longer acting on paranoid beliefs about other people.âÄĚ Bell concluded that R.J.R.
âÄúshould be placed inpatient into a psychiatric facility which would no doubt administer
medication to him.âÄĚ
Harry Patel, owner of KingâÄôs Inn Motel, testified that R.J.R. had been a tenant for five
years, that they engaged in normal conversation, and that he had never been late on a rent
payment. Patel had never been in fear of him, seen R.J.R. upset, or experienced any problem
Captain Bull testified he was not aware of any other incidents caused by R.J.R. since the
incident of November 1, 2012. Bull stated that he had previous contact with R.J.R. âÄúwhile
investigating a suspicious personâÄĚ and âÄúin regard to other incidents where [he] was contacted
with him being uncooperative with individuals.âÄĚ Bull testified that he had previously observed
R.J.R. in a condition or location where he might hurt himself or others. However, Bull clarified
that his contacts with R.J.R. were few and far between and did not constitute a continuing pattern
R.J.R. also testified that, since November 1, 2012, he had not had any incidents or run-ins
with law enforcement or others. He claimed that he was carrying a knife because âÄúI like to
protect myself because this society is getting worse and worse.âÄĚ During cross-examination, it
was established that R.J.R. had been arrested in excess of five times for criminal trespass before
2001 because he was sleeping on other peopleâÄôs property when he was âÄúforced on the streetâÄĚ
during a particular time in his life. R.J.R.âÄôs remaining testimony consisted of bizarre stories of
times he felt people were following or watching him, including his belief that grocery store
employees and âÄúagentsâÄĚ were âÄúchasingâÄĚ and recording him in the grocery store with the intention
to âÄúput something in [his] bagsâÄĚ and falsely accusing him of theft.
He testified that the
government was trying to discriminate against him for starting a new religion, which he
classified as âÄúthe true doctrine of Jesus Christ and God in the Holy Bible.âÄĚ R.J.R. believed he
would not benefit from medication because he was not delusional and stated, âÄú[I]tâÄôs a total waste
of taxpayerâÄôs money. They want to drug you up for everything.âÄĚ R.J.R. also testified that he had
never acted based on his journal entries.
After hearing the testimony and viewing the evidence, a jury found that R.J.R. (a) was
mentally ill; (b) would, if not treated, âÄúcontinue to suffer severe and abnormal mental, emotional,
or physical distress and continue to experience deterioration of the ability to function
independentlyâÄĚ; and (c) was âÄúunable to make a rational and informed decision as to whether or
not to submit to treatment.âÄĚ
The trial court entered an order for temporary inpatient mental health services and issued
a writ of commitment May 10, 2013. On appeal, R.J.R. challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting the juryâÄôs verdict and complains that the charge âÄúcontained the language of
a superseded version of Section 574.034.âÄĚ
At the time of his release, physicians had determined that R.J.R. was not a threat to
himself or others. âÄú[A] State cannot constitutionally confine without more a nondangerous
individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing
and responsible family members or friends.âÄĚ State ex rel. S.W., 356 S.W.3d 576, 579 (Tex.
App.âÄĒTexarkana 2011, no pet.) (citing OâÄôConnor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563, 576 (1975)).
âÄúThe requirements for an involuntary commitment are strict because an involuntary commitment
is a drastic measure.âÄĚ Id.; see In re Best Interest & Protection of C.O., 65 S.W.3d 175, 182 (Tex.
App.âÄĒTyler 2001, no pet.); In re Breeden, 4 S.W.3d 782, 789 (Tex. App.âÄĒSan Antonio 1999,
no pet.). âÄúThe evidentiary standards for involuntary commitment are high.âÄĚ State ex rel. E.E.,
224 S.W.3d 791, 794 (Tex. App.âÄĒTexarkana 2007, no pet.).
In reviewing legal sufficiency, we analyze âÄėâÄúwhether the evidence at trial would enable
reasonable and fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review.âÄôâÄĚ State ex rel. L.T., 386
S.W.3d 271, 274 (Tex. App.âÄĒTexarkana 2012, no pet.) (quoting Williams v. Nationstar Mortg.,
349 S.W.3d 90, 92âÄď93 (Tex. App.âÄĒTexarkana 2011, pet. denied) (citing City of Keller v.
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005)). We are to consider all of the evidence in the light
most favorable to the juryâÄôs verdict, indulging every reasonable inference that would support it.
Id. (citing Wilson, 168 S.W.3d at 822). The jury is the only judge of witness credibility and
weight to give to testimony. Id. We âÄėâÄúcannot substitute [our] judgment for that of the trier-offact, so long as the evidence falls within this zone of reasonable disagreement,âÄôâÄĚ but when the
evidence allows only one inference, âÄėâÄúthe reviewing court may [not] disregard it.âÄôâÄĚ Id. (quoting
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d at 822); see State v. K.E.W., 315 S.W.3d 16, 20 (Tex. 2010).
In reviewing factual sufficiency challenges, we review all the evidence in the record, both
supporting and running counter to the juryâÄôs findings. L.T., 386 S.W.3d at 274 (citing In re C.H.,
89 S.W.3d 17, 27âÄď29 (Tex. 2002); State ex rel. L.H., 183 S.W.3d 905, 910 (Tex. App.âÄĒ
Texarkana 2006, no pet.)). âÄėâÄúUnder the clear and convincing standard, we determine whether the
evidence is such that the trier of fact could reasonably form âÄėa firm belief or convictionâÄô as to the
truth of the allegations sought to be established by the State.âÄôâÄĚ Id. (quoting L.H., 183 S.W.3d at
910). We consider whether the disputed evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not have
reconciled the disputed evidence in favor of its finding. Id.; see In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266
Here, the jury found that R.J.R. was not a threat to himself or others.1 The jury did find,
however, that R.J.R. was suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress,
that he âÄúwould continue to experience deterioration of the ability to function independently,âÄĚ and
that he was unable to make a rational and informed decision as to whether to submit to
To support involuntary inpatient commitment, the jury was required, by clear and
convincing evidence, to find that there was substantial deterioration in R.J.R.âÄôs ability to function
independently, âÄúexhibited by [his] inability, except for reasons of indigence, to provide for [his]
basic needs, including food, clothing, health, or safety.âÄĚ TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN.
Because the jury specifically rejected the idea that R.J.R. posed a serious threat of harm to himself or others, in
order for the trial courtâÄôs order for inpatient treatment to stand, the statutory requirements of Section
574.034(a)(2)(C) and (d) of the Texas Health and Safety Code must be met. See TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE
ANN. Â§ 574.034(a)(2)(C), (d) (West 2010). The State âÄúconcedes that the jury charge submitted in the instant cause
. . . does not contain . . . any reference to the patientâÄôs inability to provide for his basic needs.âÄĚ
The State concedes that the âÄújury charge did not exactly track the statutory language of Texas Health & Safety
Code, Section 574.034(a),âÄĚ but argues that the âÄúdifference between the statutory language and the jury instructions
do not mandate reversal of the trial court commitment.âÄĚ The State also argues that âÄúR.J.R. failed to object to what
he now labels as an incorrect charge.âÄĚ For the reasons explained in the main body of this opinion, reversal is
necessary because there is insufficient evidence to meet the statutory requirements for court-ordered inpatient
mental health treatment. We resolve R.J.R.âÄôs complaints based on sufficiency of the evidence.
Â§ 574.034 (a)(2)(C)(ii) (West 2010). To be clear and convincing, the evidence was required to
include âÄúa recent overt act 3 or a continuing pattern of behavior that tends to confirm [R.J.R.âÄôs]
distress and the deterioration of [his] ability to function.âÄĚ TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN.
Â§ 574.034(d)(2). The recent overt act or continuing pattern of behavior must relate to the
criterion on which the judgment is based. In re F.M., 183 S.W.3d 489, 492 (Tex. App.âÄĒ
Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, no pet.); T.G. v. State, 7 S.W.3d 248, 252 (Tex. App.âÄĒDallas 1999,
The record before us contains no evidence that R.J.R. was unable to provide for his basic
needs. Testimony from R.J.R.âÄôs landlord demonstrated that R.J.R. had lived at the same place
for five years and had never been late on rent. The jury reviewed a letter from R.J.R. in which he
stated that he received $850.00 per month in Social Security income and heard testimony that
R.J.R. went grocery shopping. There was also no evidence suggesting that R.J.R. would be
unable to afford medication.
The evidence established that R.J.R. was delusional and suffered from psychosis.
âÄúEvidence of psychosis, hallucinations, or delusions, without more, cannot justify involuntary
commitment.âÄĚ State ex rel. S.K., No. 06-13-00023-CV, 2013 WL 1867626, at *3 (Tex. App.âÄĒ
Texarkana May 3, 2013, no pet. h.) (mem. op.). âÄúEven when the evidence establishes that an
individual is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, such evidence does not meet the
statutory standard for involuntary commitment.âÄĚ S.W., 356 S.W.3d at 580. Further, âÄú[e]vidence
of refusal to take medication, alone, is not an overt act or continuing pattern of behavior tending
Overt acts include both physical acts and oral statements. State v. K.E.W., 315 S.W.3d 16, 21âÄď22 (Tex. 2010).
to confirm a proposed patientâÄôs distress or a deterioration of ability to function.âÄĚ State ex rel.
E.R., 287 S.W.3d 297, 306 (Tex. App.âÄĒTexarkana 2009, no pet.).
We conclude that the State failed to provide evidence to show that R.J.R. was
experiencing deterioration of his ability to function independentlyâÄĒthe question which was
submitted to the jury. Further, involuntary commitment is not supported, because the State also
did not provide any evidenceâÄĒas required by the statuteâÄĒthat R.J.R. was substantially
deteriorating in his ability to function independently, exhibited by his inability to provide for his
basic needs, including food, clothing, health, or safety. See TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN.
Â§ 574.034(a)(2)(C)(ii); State ex rel. C.C., III, 253 S.W.3d 888, 893âÄď95 (Tex. App.âÄĒDallas 2008,
no pet.); State ex. rel. C.R.W., No. 06-08-00028-CV, 2008 WL 1839031, at **7âÄď8 (Tex. App.âÄĒ
Texarkana Apr. 25, 2008, no pet.) (mem. op.).
We sustain R.J.R.âÄôs point of error challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.
The Ordered Administration of Psychoactive Drugs Must Fall With the Inpatient
R.J.R. also challenges the trial courtâÄôs order for the administration of psychoactive
medication. A court may order the administration of psychoactive medication if the patient in
question is under a court order to receive inpatient mental health services. See TEX. HEALTH &
SAFETY CODE ANN. Â§ 574.106(a)(1) (West 2010). Because we reverse the trial courtâÄôs order for
inpatient mental health services, R.J.R. is not under a court order to receive mental health
services. Therefore, the order authorizing the administration of psychoactive medication is
We reverse the trial courtâÄôs judgment ordering inpatient treatment and the administration
of psychoactive medication. We further order R.J.R.âÄôs immediate release from involuntary
commitment. S.W., 356 S.W.3d at 582 (citing TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. Â§ 574.033(b)
(West 2010); TEX. R. APP. P. 43.2(c)).
Josh R. Morriss, III
June 25, 2013
July 3, 2013