In State of Vermont v. B.C. / State of Vermont v. D.H., 2016 VT 66 (June 17, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s holding that the State’s Attorney did not have standing to seek continued treatment of the two defendants after their mental health treatment orders expired.
Issue: D.H. was charged with simple assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. After a sanity and competency examination, the parties stipulated that he was insane at the time of the offense and agreed to a 90-day order of non-hospitalization (ONH) under 18 V.S.A. §7101(17). Shortly before the ONH was set to expire, the State’s Attorney filed a request for a hearing to continue treatment. The Department of Health did not. The court denied the State’s request, finding that only the Department of Health has the authority to request that kind of hearing.
B.C. was charged with simple assault and aggravated disorderly conduct and was found to be incompetent to stand trial. The parties in this case also agreed to a stipulated ONH. Before his ONH expired, B.C. was additionally charged and incarcerated. The State’s Attorney filed a request for emergency hospitalization, and the Commissioner of Mental Health responded by filing a motion to dismiss. The Court again denied the State’s request. The State then appealed the denial of the motion for a hearing on continued treatment in D.H. and the granting of the motion to dismiss in B.C. The State also argued on appeal that the Department of Mental Health discriminates against incompetent defendants.
Holding: The Court affirmed the trial court’s holding regarding both D.H. and B.C., finding that the State’s Attorney does not have standing to seek orders of continued treatment, since the Legislature explicitly gave the Commissioner the sole authority to seek orders of continued treatment. With regard to the discrimination claims, the Court found that since the claims were not made in the trial court, they were not preserved for appeal. Further, the State’s Attorney does not have standing to pursue discrimination claims since the State’s Attorney did not assert an injury-in-fact. Finally, none of the evidence used by the State’s Attorney on this claim was admitted into evidence during the trial court proceedings. For those reasons, the Court did not actually address the discrimination claims.