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In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of A.R.

May 16, 2012

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF A.R.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. 894-09.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 8, 2012

Before Judges Reisner and Hayden.

A.R. appeals from an order dated April 19, 2011, approving his involuntary civil commitment. We reverse.

I

We begin by commenting on what is and is not properly before us. A.R. had been a patient at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (Greystone or hospital), since March 4, 2009. He had been on CEPP status*fn1 for almost a year, when a series of events caused the State to seek to once again involuntarily commit him at a hearing held on April 19, 2011. The hearing was brief. The State presented one witness, and A.R. testified on his own behalf. The State did not introduce any records in evidence, including the hospital records allegedly documenting the incidents that led the State to seek A.R.'s re-commitment.

Before filing its appellate brief, the State sought to subpoena A.R.'s psychiatric records from Greystone, apparently in an effort to fill in gaps in its proofs. Then, without filing a motion to supplement the record on appeal, the State proceeded to file an appellate appendix that included documents that post-dated the hearing, and filed a brief rife with references to psychiatric terms and diagnoses that were not part of the hearing testimony.*fn2 This was improper.

The record on appeal consists of the documents on file with the trial court, including prior orders as to which we can take judicial notice, and the evidence introduced at the hearing. See R. 2:5-4(a). If the State intended to include additional documents in its appendix, either in support of its arguments on the merits or its argument that this appeal is moot, it was obligated to file a motion to supplement the record. It did not do so, and we will not consider any of the documents improperly included in its appendix. Nor will we consider any factual assertions not supported by citations to the record.

II

The following evidence was presented at the hearing. The State presented testimony from Dr. Jacqueline McFarland.*fn3 Without objection, she testified that A.R. suffers from schizo-affective disorder, bipolar type, and an Axis II diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. He had been a patient at Greystone since March 4, 2009. She confirmed A.R. had been on CEPP status for about ten months, until March 12, 2011.

According to Dr. McFarland, on March 12, 2011, A.R. assaulted another patient who was walking past him in a hospital hallway. Dr. McFarland testified that the assault was recorded on a security video which revealed that the other patient had not provoked the assault. However, Dr. McFarland was not present during the incident. She testified to hearsay contained in the notes prepared by a charge nurse. The nurse who witnessed the incident did not testify, and the State did not introduce in evidence either the nurse's notes or the video. Dr. McFarland testified that the other patient was not seriously injured. However, she testified that the police were called and A.R. was agitated and required medication.

Dr. McFarland further testified that a few weeks prior to the March 12 incident, the patient was "having periods of agitation" on January 25, 2011, and threatened to attack her on January 27, 2011. According to Dr. McFarland, during the January 27 incident, A.R. expressed ...


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