Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2016
Zachary Brandmeir, Esq., Bangor, for appellant Steven L.
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Christopher C. Leighton,
Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Steven L. appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court
(Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) affirming an order
of the District Court (Bangor, Jordan, J.) extending
his involuntary commitment to a progressive treatment program
for a period of twelve months. Although the order at issue on
appeal has expired, the issue of sufficiency of the evidence
to support a commitment order regarding Steven L. has already
been presented to us once, In re Steven L., 2014 ME
1, 86 A.3d 5 (Steven L. I), but to date has evaded
review because of the determinate duration of the order.
Given that circumstance, we conclude that the matter falls
within one of the exceptions to the mootness doctrine, reach
the merits of the appeal, and affirm the order of the
The case history, stated below, is based on the documents in
the record, here including the transcript, cf.
Guardianship of Luneau, 2016 ME 127, ¶ 1, 147 A.3d
349, and our prior opinion, Steven L. I.
Steven L. is an individual who, at the time of the trial
court hearing, was fifty-five years old. He suffers from
severe and persistent mental illness. He was involuntarily
admitted to a progressive treatment program on September 7,
2012, for a period of one year, and on July 11, 2014, was
again involuntarily admitted to a progressive treatment
program for a period of one year. In June 2015, the Dorothea
Dix Psychiatric Center, a psychiatric hospital operated by
the Department of Health and Human Services, applied to the
District Court for a twelve-month extension of the
progressive treatment program order pursuant to 34-B M.R.S.
§ 3873-A(9) (2016). The application alleged that Steven
L. has a history of multiple psychiatric admissions and
incidents of dangerous behavior and wishes to discontinue his
medication. After a hearing on June 26, 2015, the District
Court granted the motion and ordered the extension.
The District Court found, by clear and convincing evidence,
that Steven L. suffers from severe and persistent mental
illness and schizoaffective disorder that has persisted since
childhood. Because of his mental illness, Steven L. poses a
risk of harm to himself and others based on his history of
suicidality-both on and off medication-and his aggressive
behavior toward others. Steven L. has abided by the
individualized treatment plan outside of a hospital
environment for a year, but he is unlikely to take his
medication without the plan. Further, continued participation
in the progressive treatment program and access to community
resources will help protect Steven L. from interruptions of
treatment, relapses, and deterioration of his mental health,
as well as enable him to survive more safely in the
community, without posing a likelihood of serious harm.
The court was not persuaded by Steven L.s argument that the
side effects of the medication decrease his quality of life
so much that he is more likely to commit suicide if he is
required to participate in the program. Thus, the court found
each statutorily required element and ordered the extension
of Steven L.s admission to the progressive treatment program.
No motion for further findings of fact or conclusions of law
was filed. See M.R. Civ. P. 52.
Appeals of progressive treatment orders are presented first
to the Superior Court pursuant to 34-B M.R.S. §§
3864(11), 3873-A(5)(I) (2016) and M.R. Civ. P. 76D. On July
17, 2015, Steven filed a notice of appeal from the District
Courts order to the Superior Court. Following some delay in
briefing requested by Steven L.s counsel, the Superior Court
affirmed the District Courts order on April 20, 2016. This