May 25, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Moot Issue Not Capable of Repetition Yet Evading Review as Disability Finding is Fact-Specific

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of Vivekanathan on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

Involuntary Commitment—Gravely Disabled—Certification—Moot.

Respondent appealed the district court’s order upholding his certification, pursuant to CRS § 27-65-107, for involuntary commitment and treatment at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP). The appeal was dismissed.

Respondent, a 25-year-old man, has suffered from schizophrenia since he was approximately 16 years old. A Centennial Peaks psychiatrist filed with the Larimer County District Court a “Notice of Certification and Certification for Short-Term Treatment,” which certified respondent for involuntary commitment to CMHIP based on the psychiatrist’s finding that respondent was “gravely disabled” as a result of his mental illness. Respondent objected. The district court upheld the certification, concluding that respondent is mentally ill and, as a result of that illness, is gravely disabled and a danger to himself. Respondent appealed the order upholding his certification. However, after this appeal was lodged and before the Larimer County Attorney’s Office filed a response, respondent’s civil commitment was terminated early by a different physician.

Respondent argued that the appeal was not moot because the issue is capable of repetition yet evading review. Whether respondent is gravely disabled is a fact-specific determination, and it depends on his condition at the time the finding is made. Thus, even if the district court erred in making the finding in the July 2013 order, this finding does not determine whether at some point in the future respondent may be found to be gravely disabled. Therefore, the particular issue of whether the July 2013 finding of “gravely disabled” was erroneous is moot, and the appeal was dismissed.

Summary and full case available here.

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