final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Denise
Thomas, Public Defender, and Megan Long, Assistant Public
Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Timothy L. Newhall, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Miller, a forensic client committed to a state mental health
facility, appeals an order authorizing the Florida Department
of Children and Families to involuntarily medicate
him.[*] Because the trial court complied with the
requirements of section 916.107(3), Florida Statutes (2018)
when it authorized the treatment, we affirm.
was diagnosed with Unspecified Schizophrenia Spectrum
Disorder. The trial court found Miller incompetent to proceed
to trial on the criminal charges against him and committed
him to the custody of DCF. A few weeks after his commitment,
the administrator of the commitment facility petitioned the
court under section 916.107(3) for an order authorizing the
involuntary treatment of Miller, including the administration
of psychotropic medications. The administrator asserted that
Miller was unable to give express and informed consent for
court held an evidentiary hearing. Miller refused to appear.
Leigh Hassell-Walker, Miller's counselor, testified at
the hearing. She explained that Miller refused to take his
medication, to participate in any offered therapies, and to
answer questions about his competency. She asserted that
Miller refused to admit that he had a mental illness.
John Johnston, an expert in forensic psychiatry, also
testified. He diagnosed Miller with Unspecified Schizophrenia
Spectrum Disorder. He asserted that Miller refused to take
his medication even though medication was the only way to
restore his competency. Dr. Johnston opined that Miller's
prognosis was better with medication and poor without it. He
sought permission to administer three antipsychotics, two
mood stabilizers, and several medications for side effects or
discomfort so he would have options if one drug failed. He
emphasized that he would not administer all the medications
at the same time. Dr. Johnston agreed that Miller had not
been a danger to himself or others during his stay at the
hearing concluded, and the court granted the petition for
involuntary treatment. The court found that Miller was unable
to and refused to give express and informed consent to his
treatment. And that Miller refused to participate in
therapeutic options offered to restore his competency.
Because Miller had been diagnosed with Unspecified
Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder, the court found that
treatment with psychotropic medication was essential to
support of its order, the court made these findings required
by section 916.107(3): (1) Miller preferred not to take
medication as demonstrated by his refusal to attend the
proceedings and his refusal to take medications under any
circumstances; (2) Miller suffered from a medical condition
that would require close monitoring if a certain psychotropic
medication was administered; (3) Miller's prognosis
without treatment was poor, and his competence could not be
restored without medication; and (4) Miller's prognosis
would be better with drug treatment than without it.
the court found that the evidence supported Miller's
involuntary treatment under the statute, Miller's counsel
argued that the trial court was also required to determine
whether Miller's involuntary medication was
constitutionally permissible by considering the factors
provided in Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166
(2003). The court found that it need not consider those
factors because Sell did not apply when the court
determined that (1) the forensic client was dangerous or (2)
the client's refusal to take medication placed his health
at grave risk.
court found that Miller was a danger to himself or others.
The court observed that Florida's statutory framework for
civil commitment required a preliminary finding by the
committing court that the defendant was dangerous to himself
or others and that no less restrictive alternative was
appropriate. The court believed that the findings of the
original order were controlling and that it lacked authority