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In re Civil Commitment of J.E.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 7, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF J.E.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 12, 2012

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. MH-87-2012.

Daniel F. O'Brien, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant J.E. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. O'Brien, on the brief).

Thomas M. Bachman, Assistant Essex County Counsel, argued the cause for respondent, State of New Jersey/County of Essex (James R. Paganelli, Essex County Counsel, attorney; Mr. Bachman, on the brief).

Before Judges Nugent and Haas.

PER CURIAM

J.E. appeals from the March 13, 2012 Civil Commitment Order that continued his involuntary commitment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.15 to the Essex County Hospital Center (ECHC) and scheduled a review hearing for the following month. We affirm.

On January 13, 2012, after finding probable cause to believe then eighteen-year old J.E. was in need of involuntary commitment, a Law Division judge entered an order committing him to Newark Beth Israel Hospital, and scheduled an initial hearing for February 1, 2012. At the initial hearing, another judge continued J.E.'s involuntary commitment, authorized his transfer to ECHC, and ordered that a review hearing be scheduled in approximately thirty days. J.E. did not appeal either of those orders.

On March 8, 2012, five days before the review hearing, a psychiatrist examined J.E. According to the psychiatrist's report, J.E.'s mother died when he was two years old, and later two of his aunts died. In the year before J.E.'s admission, his father died, and J.E. became psychotic and depressed. He denied his own existence, his name, and his family. According to the psychiatrist, J.E. had taken three different medications since his admission, but he had not improved.

The psychiatrist reported that J.E. believed his parents were not dead, but in a spaceship on a permanent mission; that his aunt was an imposter; and that he, J.E., had a guardian called Yamaguchi Werewolf. Concluding her report, the psychiatrist stated that J.E. was unable to take care of himself medically or psychiatrically.[1]

The review hearing was conducted on March 13, 2012. The psychiatrist was the only witness. Consistent with her report, she testified that J.E.'s present diagnosis was "schizophrenic disorder mix, and a rule out schizophrenia chronic paranoid type but since he's so young we will not consider it schizophrenia." J.E.'s current medications were ineffective, so the psychiatrist had ordered blood tests to see if he could be started on a new medication.

The psychiatrist explained, as she had in her report, that J.E. was delusional. He did not believe that his name was his real name. He thought he had been born in Egypt or the Bahamas, and he thought his parents, both deceased, were in space on a space mission. Orphaned, J.E.'s only relatives were an aunt and cousin. He denied they were his relatives, believing his real cousin, named Werewolf, lived on the ECHC's third floor.

Based on J.E.'s delusional symptoms, the psychiatrist believed he was dangerous to himself, a condition warranting continuing involuntary commitment. Accordingly, she recommended that J.E.'s commitment status be reviewed in six weeks to give her time to ...


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