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In re Perry

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

January 12, 2017

In re Karen Perry, Appellant.

          Argued October 11, 2016

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Family Division (MRE-21-03) (Hon. Aida L. Melendez, Magistrate Judge) (Hon. Carol Ann Dalton, Reviewing Judge)

          Pierre E. Bergeron for appellant.

          Stacy L. Anderson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, with whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee District of Columbia.

          Charles H. Fitzpatrick, guardian ad litem for appellant, filed a statement adopting appellee's brief.

          Before Washington, Chief Judge, and Easterly and McLeese, Associate Judges.

         JUDGMENT

         This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the reviewing judge's order affirming the magistrate judge's order is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

          McLeese, Associate Judge

         In 2004, appellant Karen Perry was involuntarily committed to a residential facility under the Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Act, D.C. Code § 7-1301 et seq. (2012 Repl. & 2016 Supp.), on the grounds that she had a moderate intellectual disability and needed assistance to develop necessary life skills. In 2012, the District of Columbia Department on Disability Services moved to have Ms. Perry's involuntary commitment lifted, contending that Ms. Perry had only a mild intellectual disability and thus could no longer properly be involuntarily committed. Through court-appointed counsel, Ms. Perry opposed the lifting of her involuntary commitment, arguing that commitment was necessary to ensure that Ms. Perry did not have the option to leave her residential facility and thus lose access to necessary services. The magistrate judge denied Ms. Perry's requests for an evidentiary hearing and for funds to obtain an expert to assist Ms. Perry's counsel. Taking into account both recent and prior evaluations of Ms. Perry, the magistrate judge concluded that there was a reasonable doubt as to whether Ms. Perry was moderately intellectually disabled. The magistrate judge therefore terminated Ms. Perry's involuntary commitment. In this court, Ms. Perry argues, among other things, that she should have been granted an evidentiary hearing and the assistance of an expert in connection with that hearing. We agree that Ms. Perry should have been afforded an evidentiary hearing. We therefore vacate the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

         I. Facts and Procedural Background

         Ms. Perry was involuntarily committed to a residential facility pursuant to D.C. Code § 7-1303.04, which authorizes such commitment only if the individual being committed has at least a moderate intellectual disability. To have a moderate intellectual disability, a person must be at least moderately impaired both cognitively and adaptively. D.C. Code § 7-1301.03 (2). The court reviewed Ms. Perry's commitment annually, as required under D.C. Code § 7-1304.11, and Ms. Perry was evaluated in connection with those reviews. Although a number of those evaluations indicated that Ms. Perry's cognitive functioning was moderately impaired, some evaluations indicated that Ms. Perry's cognitive functioning was instead mildly impaired. Through 2009, the trial court determined that Ms. Perry was moderately intellectually disabled. In 2010, 2011, and 2012, the trial court found that Ms. Perry was mildly cognitively impaired and moderately adaptively impaired, but continued her commitment nonetheless.

         In 2012, the Department on Disability Services moved to have Ms. Perry's involuntary commitment terminated, arguing that Ms. Perry was only mildly cognitively impaired. In response, the magistrate judge ordered the District to arrange for a new psychological evaluation of Ms. Perry. That evaluation was conducted by Dr. William H. Byrd, who ...


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