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Beal v. State

Supreme Court of Maine

November 22, 2016

LAURIE A. BEAL
v.
STATE OF MAINE

          Argued: September 15, 2016

         On the briefs:

          Rory A. McNamara, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, Lebanon, for appellant Laurie A. Beal

          Maeghan Maloney, District Attorney, and David M. Spencer, Asst. Dist. Atty., Kennebec County District Attorneys Office, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine

         At oral argument:

          Rory A. McNamara, Esq., for appellant Laurie A. Beal

          David M. Spencer, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          HJELM, J.

         [¶1] Laurie A. Beal appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court (Kennebec County, Alexander, J.) denying her petition for discharge from the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. Contrary to Beals contention, the evidence does not compel a finding by clear and convincing evidence that Beal may be discharged without likelihood that she will cause injury to herself or others due to a mental disease or defect. We therefore affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] In March 2005, after facing charges of terrorizing and criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, Beal was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect and committed to the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. See 15 M.R.S.A. § 103 (2003).1 In October 2015, following a series of placements in several psychiatric facilities, Beal filed a petition for discharge from the custody of the Commissioner of DHHS pursuant to 15 M.R.S. §§ 104-A(1)(B) and 104-A(3) (2015).2 At that time, she was hospitalized at the Riverview Psychiatric Center.

         [¶3] A hearing on the petition was held in January 2016. The court heard testimony from Beal, Beals sister, a Riverview staff psychiatrist, a Riverview staff psychologist, a forensic psychologist who is also the Director of the State Forensic Service, and a psychologist who examined Beal at her request and reviewed her medical records for purposes of this proceeding. Additionally, the record before the trial court included several written psychological and neuropsychological assessments of Beal that were either 1 Title 15 M.R.S. § 103 has since been amended multiple times, though not in any way that affects this appeal. See, e.g., P.L. 2005, ch. 263, § 1 (effective September 17, 2005) (codified at 15 M.R.S. § 103 (2015)); P.L. 2013, ch. 424, § B-3 (effective July 16, 2013) (codified at 15 M.R.S. § 103 (2015)). Additionally, pursuant to legislation that became effective on July 1, 2004, the term "Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services, " which appeared in 15 M.R.S.A. § 103 (2003), was "deemed to refer to . . . the Department of Health and Human Services." P.L. 2003, ch. 689, § B-1 (effective July 1, 2004). 2 Pursuant to 15 M.R.S. § 104-A(1)(B) (2015), a "discharge" altogether terminates an order committing the petitioner to the custody of the Commissioner of DHHS. A "release, " in contrast, falls short of a "discharge, " and "means termination of institutional inpatient residency and return to permanent residency in the community" subject to ongoing supervision by DHHS. 15 M.R.S. § 104-A(1)(A) (2015). Beal has made clear that she is seeking a full discharge-rather than a release-from departmental custody. filed with the court before the hearing pursuant to sections 104-A(1) and (3), or admitted in evidence at the hearing without objection.

         [¶4] After the hearing, the court denied Beals petition for discharge based on its finding that Beal "remains afflicted with a mental disease or defect that renders her dangerous to herself, ...


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