Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In the Matter of Carl S., 510 P.3d 486 (Alaska 2022), the supreme court held that a man’s due process rights were violated when he was civilly committed based on an unpled claim of grave disability. (Id. at 488). On August 28, 2020, the man was brought to the Anchorage jail for booking. (Id.). He spoke nonsensically, was disoriented as to the date and where he was, and ate an ointment provided for lesions on his skin. (Id.). He also had a past schizophrenia diagnosis. (Id. at 489). On September 8, mental health professionals filed a petition for 30-day civil commitment of the man. (Id.). At a September 14 commitment hearing, his treating psychiatrist testified that she was concerned the man was gravely disabled and would harm himself. (Id. at 490). The lower court found that the man was gravely disabled based on extreme neglect and ordered him to be civilly committed. (Id.). On appeal, the supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that the man did not receive adequate notice and opportunity to be heard because he was not notified that the theory of grave disability was being considered. (Id. at 493, 495). The court further reasoned that fundamental constitutional issues of liberty and privacy were involved in commitment cases, which added to the importance of proper notice of arguments being presented. (Id. at 493, 494). Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that a man’s due process rights were violated when he was civilly committed without being notified of the theories argued for his commitment. (Id. at 495).