Before Judges Braithwaite and Wecker.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Braithwaite, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
Appellant W.H., a fifty-one year old man, was ordered temporarily committed to Meadowview Hospital on June 3, 1998. Appellant has a "long psychiatric history" and was committed because "[h]e became non-compliant with his medications." Following a hearing on June 25, 1998, a final order of commitment was entered with a "review in two weeks" so that appellant's medication could be changed. Following his review hearing, appellant was "conditionally discharged" from the hospital.
Appellant now appeals from the commitment order of June 25, 1998, arguing that the State failed to meet its burden of proof that he was a danger to himself, others or property. He also asserts that the State's physician provided a "net opinion" and that this appeal is not moot despite his release from the hospital.
We agree that appellant's release from the hospital has not mooted the controversy. "An involuntary committee's property is subject to a lien for the cost of his hospital care." In Re Commitment of A.A., 252 N.J. Super. 170, 172 n.1 (App. Div. 1991) (citing N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.1). With such a potential monetary obligation, appellant's appeal is not moot. We also agree that the State failed to meet its burden of proof and now reverse.
To support appellant's commitment, the State's expert testified in part as follows:
Q. Doctor, if the patient were released from a structured setting such as this, would he be a danger to himself or others?
A. Most likely if he's released at this point in time from this facility, he will become non-compliant with his medications, most likely decompensate and require rehospitalization.
Q. What is the hospital's plan toward continued commitment?
A. Continued hospitalization until we can stabilize ...