Nebraska Revised Statute 71-908

Chapter 71 Section 908

71-908.

Mentally ill and dangerous person, defined.

Mentally ill and dangerous person means a person who is mentally ill or substance dependent and because of such mental illness or substance dependence presents:

(1) A substantial risk of serious harm to another person or persons within the near future as manifested by evidence of recent violent acts or threats of violence or by placing others in reasonable fear of such harm; or

(2) A substantial risk of serious harm to himself or herself within the near future as manifested by evidence of recent attempts at, or threats of, suicide or serious bodily harm or evidence of inability to provide for his or her basic human needs, including food, clothing, shelter, essential medical care, or personal safety.

Source

  • Laws 1976, LB 806, § 9;
  • Laws 1977, LB 204, § 26;
  • Laws 1985, LB 252, § 2;
  • R.S.1943, (1999), § 83-1009;
  • Laws 2004, LB 1083, § 28.

Annotations

  • 1. Requirements of section

  • 2. Evidentiary issues

  • 3. Standard of proof

  • 4. Constitutionality

  • 5. Appeal

  • 1. Requirements of section

  • Involuntary commitment as a mentally ill dangerous person is improper when, although a person is clearly mentally ill, there is no showing of dangerousness. Petersen v. County Board of Mental Health, 203 Neb. 622, 279 N.W.2d 844 (1979).

  • Showing that a person is a spendthrift and improvident is insufficient to demonstrate dangerousness as required by this statute. Petersen v. County Board of Mental Health, 203 Neb. 622, 279 N.W.2d 844 (1979).

  • The requirements of this section, which defines a mentally ill dangerous person, are met when medical diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia and an unprovoked assault and threatening behavior are shown by clear and convincing proof. Lux v. Mental Health Board of Polk County, 202 Neb. 106, 274 N.W.2d 141 (1979).

  • Before a person may be committed for treatment by a mental health board, the board must determine that the person meets the definition of a mentally ill and dangerous person as set forth herein. In re Interest of Verle O., 13 Neb. App. 256, 691 N.W.2d 177 (2005).

  • 2. Evidentiary issues

  • There is no definite time-oriented period to determine whether an act is recent for the purposes of this section. Each case must be decided on the basis of the surrounding facts and circumstances. In re Interest of Kochner, 266 Neb. 114, 662 N.W.2d 195 (2003).

  • To meet the definition of a mentally ill dangerous person, the State must show that the person suffers from a mental illness and that the person presents a substantial risk of harm to others or to himself or herself. In re Interest of Kochner, 266 Neb. 114, 662 N.W.2d 195 (2003).

  • A person who is mentally retarded does not fall within the definition of "mentally ill dangerous person" unless there is a secondary diagnosis of mental illness. In re Interest of Wickwire, 259 Neb. 305, 609 N.W.2d 384 (2000).

  • Actions and statements of a person alleged to be mentally ill and dangerous which occur prior to the hearing are probative of the subject's present mental condition. However, in order for a past act to have any evidentiary value, it must form some foundation for a prediction of future dangerousness and be, therefore, probative of that issue. In re Interest of Rasmussen, 236 Neb. 572, 462 N.W.2d 621 (1990).

  • In proving the dangerousness of a mentally ill person as manifested by "evidence of inability to provide for his basic human needs," within the meaning of this section, expert testimony may be used to prove such a condition. In re Interest of Kinnebrew, 224 Neb. 885, 402 N.W.2d 264 (1987).

  • An act occurring five years prior to the mental health commitment hearing is recent within the meaning of this section where: (a) There is evidence that the act is still probative of the subject's future dangerousness; (b) the subject has not had an opportunity to commit a more recent act because he has been in confinement; and (c) there is reliable medical evidence that there is a high probability of repetition of such act by the subject. Under Mental Health Commitment Act, the determination of whether an act of violence is recent must be decided on the basis of all the surrounding facts and circumstances. In re Interest of Blythman, 208 Neb. 51, 302 N.W.2d 666 (1981).

  • An act or threat is "recent" within the meaning of this section, if the time interval between it and the hearing of the mental health board is not greater than that which would indicate processing of the complaint was carried on with reasonable diligence under the circumstances existing having due regard for the rights and welfare of the alleged mentally ill dangerous person and the protection of society in general. Hill v. County Board of Mental Health, Douglas County, 203 Neb. 610, 279 N.W.2d 838 (1979).

  • Although this section refers to "recent violent acts," commitment may be based upon evidence of only one violent act or threat. Lux v. Mental Health Board of Polk County, 202 Neb. 106, 274 N.W.2d 141 (1979).

  • Pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, acts committed over 10 years prior to the filing of the petition seeking commitment can still be sufficiently recent to be probative on the issue of dangerousness where the subject's lengthy incarceration prevented him from committing a more recent act and where the subject had not completed any offense-specific treatment while incarcerated. In re Interest of Michael U., 14 Neb. App. 918, 720 N.W.2d 403 (2006).

  • 3. Standard of proof

  • The State must prove by clear and convincing evidence that an individual poses a substantial risk of harm to others or to himself to have that individual declared mentally ill and dangerous under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act. In re Interest of Dickson, 238 Neb. 148, 469 N.W.2d 357 (1991).

  • Evidence must be clear and convincing to support a finding that a person is mentally ill and dangerous. In re Interest of Rasmussen, 236 Neb. 572, 462 N.W.2d 621 (1990).

  • 4. Constitutionality

  • The definitions of mentally ill dangerous persons in the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act and the statutes governing persons acquitted of a crime on grounds of insanity are constitutional and do not violate equal protection guarantees. Tulloch v. State, 237 Neb. 138, 465 N.W.2d 448 (1991).

  • 5. Appeal

  • An order adjudicating an individual as a mentally ill dangerous person pursuant to this section and ordering that person retained for an indeterminate amount of time is an order affecting a substantial right in a special proceeding from which an appeal may be taken. In re Interest of Saville, 10 Neb. App. 194, 626 N.W.2d 644 (2001).