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Hicks v. North Florida Regional Evaluation and Treatment Center

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

December 23, 2019

Alfred HICKS III, Appellant,
v.
NORTH FLORIDA REGIONAL EVALUATION AND TREATMENT CENTER, Appellee.

Page 406

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Denise Ferrero, Judge.

         Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Megan Long, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

         Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Timothy L. Newhall, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

         OPINION

         Rowe, J.

         Alfred Hicks III, 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.

          Facts

         Hicks was diagnosed with delusional disorder. The trial court declared Hicks incompetent to proceed to trial on the criminal charges against him and committed him to the custody of DCF. Eight months later, the administrator of the commitment

Page 407

facility petitioned the court, under section 916.107(3), for an order authorizing the involuntary treatment of Hicks, including the administration of psychotropic medications. The administrator asserted that Hicks was unable to give express and informed consent for his treatment.

          The court held an evidentiary hearing on the petition and Hicks testified. Hicks claimed he did not need treatment because he was not harming anyone. He refused to take his prescribed medications because he was concerned about the side effects. But he did not identify any side effects that prompted his concern.

          Dr. John Johnston, an expert in forensic psychiatry, also testified at the hearing. Dr. Johnston diagnosed Hicks with delusional disorder. Hicks’ disorder manifested itself through many irrational beliefs. For example, he believed that it would be impossible for him to lose at trial, that he was a millionaire, and that the hospital was poisoning his food. He also believed that a group at the hospital was conspiring to prevent his discharge. Dr. Johnston opined that the best course of treatment for Hicks was long-term psychotherapy. But Hicks refused to talk about his symptoms or illness. The next best treatment option was medication. Dr. Johnston explained that Hicks’ prognosis with medication was better than without it. He also opined that Hicks’ competency could not be restored without medication.

          After filing the petition for involuntary treatment, Dr. Johnston sought an emergency treatment order because Hicks’ anger and aggression over being involuntarily committed led to Hicks making threatening statements to multiple staff members at the hospital. Dr. James Yelton, a psychiatrist, opined that there had been a de-escalation in Hicks’ aggressive behavior since he started taking the medication authorized by the emergency order.

          The hearing concluded and the trial court granted the petition for involuntary treatment. The court found that Hicks was unable to and refused to give express and informed consent to his treatment. And that Hicks refused to participate in therapeutic options offered to restore his competency. Because Hicks had been diagnosed with delusional disorder, the court found that treatment with psychotropic medications was ...


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