On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, MH-1848-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 10, 2008
Before Judges Lihotz and Messano.
S.D., a civil committee at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital (Ancora), appeals from the March 7, 2008 order that continued his involuntary commitment and scheduled his next review date for May 9, 2008.*fn1 In 2003, S.D. was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sentenced to a six-year term of imprisonment with an 85% period of parole eligibility. Upon his release from prison in August 2007, he was civilly committed to the Ann Klein Forensic Center, and transferred to Ancora on November 21, 2007.*fn2
His status was first reviewed in December 2007 and again in February 2008, when his privileges were advanced to Level II. See N.J.A.C. 10:36-1.6.
The hearing that gives rise to this appeal took place on March 7, 2008. The only witness produced was Doctor Toni Calabrese, a psychiatrist on staff at Ancora and part of S.D.'s treatment team. She opined that S.D. suffered from "[m]ajor depression, major depressive disorder, alcohol dependence and [a] borderline personality disorder." Calabrese noted S.D. had been compliant in taking his medication but continued "to have residual symptoms." She further opined that S.D. was "a danger to others if he was released . . . outside the structure." Asked to expand upon the basis for this opinion, Calabrese testified
In view of the fact that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, and . . . that [S.D.] is alcohol addicted, that alcohol was involved and intoxication was involved at the time of the offense, in view of the fact that he remains depressed, has borderline personality traits, has poor insight into relationships and his role in relationships, has poor problem-solving skills, there is a likelihood that he will decompensate outside of the structure of the hospital and that when that happens, based on that he has had a previous offense, under those conditions, there is a likelihood that this could happen again.
On cross-examination, Calabrese confirmed that S.D. was not psychotic, not bi-polar, did not suffer from delusions or hallucinations, did not suffer from any paraphilia, and was not suicidal. She also found him "oriented to person, place and time" and coherent in his speech. Calabrese also agreed that S.D. was "generally cooperative" and had not engaged in threatening or agitated behavior while at Ancora.
As cross-examination concluded, the following exchange took place between Calabrese and S.D.'s counsel:
Q: So correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a couple of ifs involved in your concern. If [S.D.] starts drinking, if he has a relationship with a woman, if there's a break-up, if he doesn't handle it well, then the[re]'ll be a problem. Is that sort of the gist of that?
This prompted further questioning by ...