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Guardianship of McIntosh

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

July 28, 2015

GUARDIANSHIP OF COLLEEN M. McINTOSH

Submitted on Briefs July 1, 2015.

Page 655

On the briefs: Wayne Doane, Esq., Exeter, for appellant Colleen M. McIntosh.

Jeanne Snodgrass, appellee Pro se.

Janet T. Mills, Attorney General and Janine A. Raquet, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Bangor, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.

OPINION

Page 656

ALEXANDER, J.

[¶1] Colleen M. McIntosh appeals fro a judgment of the Penobscot County Probate Court ( R. Bradford, J. ) making the Department of Health and Human Services her public guardian pursuant to 18-A M.R.S. § § 5-304, 5-601 (2014). McIntosh challenges the court's findings, by clear and convincing evidence, that she is incapacitated and that appointment of the Department as public guardian is necessary or desirable as a means of providing for her continuing care and supervision. Because competent evidence in the record, which was thoroughly developed in the course of this guardianship proceeding, supports the court's findings and conclusions to the requisite standard of proof, we affirm the judgment.

I. CASE HISTORY

[¶2] The facts in the Probate Court record may be summarized as follows. In October 2010, the mother of Colleen M. McIntosh filed in the Penobscot County Probate Court a petition for private guardianship of an incapacitated person. See 18-A M.R.S. § 5-303 (2014). At that time, McIntosh had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and concerns had arisen regarding her well-being during her hospitalization for psychiatric treatment. Following a hearing, the court ( A. Woodcock, J. ) appointed McIntosh's mother to be her temporary guardian pursuant to 18-A M.R.S. § 5-310-A(a) (2014). In April 2011, prior to a final hearing, McIntosh's mother withdrew her petition.[1]

Page 657

[¶3] On July 2, 2014, the Department filed its petition, which is the subject of this appeal, seeking a general public guardianship over McIntosh. See 18-A M.R.S. § § 5-303, 5-601, 5-602 (2014). McIntosh had spent most of the previous five years in various Maine psychiatric hospitals. During her most recent hospitalization, McIntosh frequently asked for or demanded changes to her medications. Specifically, she demanded to stop a medication that her doctors found to be effective and sought to resume a medication that, in the past, had caused her to experience serious side effects. According to her doctors, her mental and functional conditions were deteriorating.

[¶4] In its petition, the Department alleged that McIntosh's diagnosis of chronic paranoid schizophrenia renders her incapacitated as defined by 18-A M.R.S. § 5-101(1) (2014) and that " constant vacillation" in medication, as she requested, could cause serious reactions and compromise the efficacy of her treatment. The Department further alleged that McIntosh is at risk of health decline as well as financial exploitation if she returns to her mother. The Department asserted that McIntosh's mother had not provided any funds to McIntosh during her recent hospitalization, despite the mother being the representative payee for McIntosh's Social Security disability payments. ...


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