Argued: March 2, 2017
F. Hess, Esq. (orally), The Law Office of Scott F. Hess, LLC,
Augusta, for appellant Henry B.
T. Mills, Attorney General, and N. Paul Gauvreau, Asst. Atty.
Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for
appellee Department of Health and Human Services
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
Henry B. appeals from an order of the Superior Court (Knox
County, Billings, /.), acting as an intermediate
appellate court, affirming the District Court's
(Rockland, Sparaco, J.) order of involuntary
commitment. Henry raises a novel question of law: whether
individuals subject to involuntary commitment proceedings in
Maine have the right to effective representation of counsel.
Henry contends that they do. We agree, and adopt the
Strickland standard for courts reviewing claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel in involuntary commitment
proceedings. See generally Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668 (1984). However, we disagree with Henry's
contention that his counsel was ineffective, and therefore
affirm the District Court's judgment ordering Henry's
involuntary commitment, as well as the Superior Court's
judgment affirming that judgment.
On March 15, 2016, Henry B. was admitted to Pen Bay Medical
Center (PBMC) pursuant to the "blue paper"
procedures of 34-B M.R.S. § 3863(1)-(2) (2016). On March
18, 2016, PBMC staff applied to involuntarily commit Henry
pursuant to the "white paper" procedures of 34-B
M.R.S. §3863(5-A) (2016). A commitment hearing was held
in the District Court (Rockland, Sparaco, /.) on
March 28, 2016, at which Henry was represented by appointed
Based on the testimony of the medical director of PBMC's
Psychiatric and Addiction Recovery Center (PARC), an
independent medical examiner, and two of Henry's sisters,
the District Court concluded that the State had proved by
clear and convincing evidence that Henry was mentally ill and
that he had suffered an "acute psychotic episode,
possibly related to a schizophrenic break." Further, the
court concluded that Henry posed a "serious risk"
of harming himself or others, that there was not "an
adequate community of resources for his care or treatment,
that it would not be wise or safe to return him to his
family's care, " and that constant observation at
PBMC would be "more structured and reliable than
[treatment] he would be getting at home." The court
therefore ordered that Henry be subject to involuntary
hospitalization for up to 120 days.
Henry appealed to the Superior Court (Knox County,
Billings, /.), and after a hearing on June 29, 2016,
the Superior Court affirmed the District Court's judgment
of involuntary commitment. See 34-B M.R.S. §
3864(11) (2016); M.R. Civ. P. 76(D). Henry timely appealed.
See M.R. App. P. 2(B)(3).
Henry contends that he was not provided with effective
assistance of counsel at the March 28 District Court hearing.
He asserts that we should adopt the Strickland
standard, see Strickland,466 U.S. 668 (1984), when
analyzing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in
involuntary commitment cases, and ...