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In re Mental Commitment of C.S.

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District II

March 27, 2019

In the Matter of the Mental Commitment of C.S.:
v.
C. S., Respondent-Appellant. Winnebago County, Petitioner-Respondent,

          APPEAL from orders of the circuit court for Winnebago County No. 2015ME267: KAREN L. SEIFERT and BARBARA H. KEY, Judges. Affirmed.

          Before Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Gundrum, J.

          REILLY, P.J.

         ¶1 C.S. was found not competent to make informed decisions as to the advantages and disadvantages of accepting particular medication or treatment while a prisoner and was involuntarily medicated per Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g) (2017-18).[1] C.S. argues that § 51.61(1)(g) is facially unconstitutional as it does not require a finding of dangerousness before involuntarily medicating prisoners who are committed under Wis.Stat. § 51.20(1)(ar). We affirm as § 51.61(1)(g) is reasonably related to the state's legitimate interest in providing care and assistance to prisoners suffering from mental illness who are found not competent to refuse medication and treatment.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In 2005, C.S. was convicted of mayhem as a repeater and sentenced to twenty years in prison (ten years' initial confinement, ten years' extended supervision).[3] C.S. was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Involuntary commitment and medication orders were obtained in 2012 and those court orders have been extended on several occasions. The petition at issue in this case was filed on May 22, 2015. Within the petition, a psychologist affirmed C.S.'s schizophrenia diagnosis and opined that C.S. satisfied the statutory criteria for an extension of commitment and for involuntary medication. C.S. objected and a jury trial was held in June 2015. The jury, addressing the elements of Wis.Stat. § 51.20(1)(ar), found that (1) C.S. was mentally ill; (2) C.S. was a proper subject for treatment and in need of treatment; (3) C.S. was an inmate of a state prison; (4) less restrictive forms of appropriate treatment had been attempted and were unsuccessful; and (5) and (6) C.S. had been fully informed of his treatment needs, the mental health services available, and his rights, and he had an opportunity to discuss these matters with a licensed physician or psychologist. The circuit court entered an order extending C.S.'s commitment under § 51.20(1)(ar) and an order for involuntary medication and treatment under Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g).[4]

         ¶3 In a postcommitment motion, C.S. challenged Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g) as "unconstitutional for all prisoners committed under Wis.Stat. § 51.20(1)(ar)" as it allows prisoners to be involuntarily medicated without a finding of dangerousness. The circuit court denied the motion.[5] C.S. appeals.

         ¶4 We begin by noting that C.S. previously made a facial challenge to his commitment in Winnebago County v. Christopher S. (C.S. I), 2016 WI 1, ¶3, 366 Wis.2d 1, 878 N.W.2d 109');">878 N.W.2d 109, on the ground that Wis.Stat. § 51.20(1)(ar) violates substantive due process as it allows the involuntary commitment of a prisoner without a finding that he or she is dangerous. Our supreme court rejected this argument, finding that § 51.20(1)(ar) is constitutional as "it is reasonably related to the State's legitimate interest in providing care and assistance to inmates suffering from mental illness." C.S. I, 366 Wis.2d 1, ¶24. In this appeal, C.S. challenges the intertwined issue of involuntary medication of prisoners under Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g), without a finding of dangerousness.

         Standards of Review

         ¶5 "The constitutionality of a statute is a question of law that we review de novo." State v. Wood, 2010 WI 17, ¶15, 323 Wis.2d 321, 780 N.W.2d 63');">780 N.W.2d 63. We presume every statute is constitutional. Id. A party challenging a statute must "prove that the statute is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Cole, 2003 WI 112, ¶11, 264 Wis.2d 520, 665 N.W.2d 328. C.S. presents a facial challenge to the constitutionality of Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g).[6] See Wood, 323 Wis.2d 321, ¶13. "Under such a challenge, the challenger must show that the law cannot be enforced 'under any circumstances.'" Id. (citation omitted). If the party succeeds, "the law is void 'from its beginning to the end.'" Id. (citation omitted).

         ¶6 We discern an individual's substantive due process rights from the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and article I, section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. Wood, 323 Wis.2d 321, ¶17. "The right to substantive due process addresses 'the content of what government may do to people under the guise of the law.'" Id. (citation omitted). "An individual's substantive due process rights protect against a state action that is arbitrary, wrong, or oppressive," id., and "forbids a government from exercising 'power without any reasonable justification in the service of a legitimate governmental objective, '" State v. Luedtke, 2015 WI 42, ¶74, 362 Wis.2d 1, 863 N.W.2d 592 (citation omitted).

         ¶7 A challenge to Wis.Stat. § 51.61(1)(g) is subject to rational basis review. See C.S. I, 366 Wis.2d 1, ¶42; see also Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 223-26 (1990). "A law subject to rational basis review will be upheld 'unless it is patently arbitrary and bears no rational relationship to a legitimate government interest." C.S. I, 366 Wis.2d 1, ¶36 (citation omitted). "When faced with a substantive due process challenge, we examine 'whether the statute is a reasonable and rational means to the legislative end.'" Luedtke, 362 Wis.2d 1, ¶76 (citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶8 C.S. argues that "Wis. Stat. § 51.61(1)(g) violates substantive due process because it does not require a finding of dangerousness at any point to involuntarily administer medication to prisoners." We conclude that the involuntary medication and treatment of a prisoner is facially constitutional as there is a legitimate reason for the state to ...


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