The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of R.F., Respondent-Appellant.
County District Court No. 19MH34 Honorable Jill S. Mattoon,
Cynthia Mitchell, County Attorney, Kate H. Shafer, Special
Assistant County Attorney, Pueblo, Colorado, for
Law Firm of John L. Rice, John L. Rice, Pueblo, Colorado, for
1 Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003),
established a four-part test for evaluating petitions to
involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication to render
the respondent competent to stand trial. In this case, we
adopt the framework as set out by the Supreme Court, thus
disagreeing with another division of this court, People
in Interest of Hardesty, 2014 COA 138, which framed the
test as having eight parts.
2 Respondent, R.F., appeals the district court's order
allowing doctors at the state mental health hospital to
involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication for the
purpose of restoring him to competency to stand trial.
Because he expressly concedes the sufficiency of the evidence
to support the district court's order, we affirm.
3 The People charged R.F. with second degree assault. The
district court ordered a competency evaluation, and, in July
2018, R.F. was diagnosed by a psychiatrist at the state
mental health hospital with "psychosis - not otherwise
specified" and found incompetent to stand trial.
4 In January 2019, after other restoration efforts proved
unsuccessful, the People petitioned the court under section
16-8.5-112(1), C.R.S. 2018, for permission to involuntarily
administer antipsychotic medications and to monitor any side
effects. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on
5 R.F. and his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Lennart Abel,
testified at the hearing. Dr. Abel offered expert testimony
that R.F. suffered from persistent delusions and was unlikely
to be rendered competent without antipsychotic medications.
He opined that the medications the People sought to
involuntarily administer were substantially likely to render
R.F. competent, but he did not provide any basis for his
conclusion, other than a brief reference to "somebody
who suffer[ed] from psychosis not otherwise specified"
whom he had once restored to competency.
6 Dr. Abel acknowledged that R.F. had not previously taken
antipsychotic medication and that he did not know "how
[R.F. was] going to react to these medications." He
conceded that R.F. might be part of the "small
group" of patients with delusional disorders who do not
respond to antipsychotic medication; in that event, Dr. Abel
testified, he would "try other medications, other
antipsychotic medications that are not currently on this
7 R.F. testified that he had refused the medication because
he disagreed with Dr. Abel's diagnosis and treatment
plan. He said he would not consider taking the medications
voluntarily until he received a second opinion.
8 The district court found that the People had met their
burden to show that administration of the medication was
necessary to advance the state's interest in restoring
R.F. to competency. Specifically, the court found that
• R.F. suffers from psychosis;
• R.F. is incapable of making treatment decisions
because of his mental health disorder;
• reasonable efforts have been made to obtain voluntary
acceptance of treatment, but R.F. objects to the proposed
treatment and ...