The defendant testified that he confronted his wife’s father, that his wife was nervous and crying and left the room, and that her sister followed her out. The defendant said that his wife’s father said that the defendant’s wife is not his real daughter, and that her sister does not have a man, so “when she needs it, I give it to her”, as if he were doing her a favor. The defendant testified that the next morning when he went to take his shower, he saw his wife in the shower, and she was all black and blue, and was beaten up. When the defendant asked her what happened, she said that nobody beat her up, and became hysterical. The defendant continued that one day he saw that his wife’s father had his wife’s sister on a wall, and was punching her in the face, and he separated them. The domestic violence defendant indicated that he had told his wife this, and that on another occasion, he saw his wife’s father beating up her sister again. The criminal defendant testified that when he saw his wife, he believed her father had beaten her, but needed his wife to tell him herself.
When asked by the Court when could the defendant ever be expected to be released, when his illness is gone today but could be back tomorrow, the doctor testified that with maintenance medications, the defendant can lead a very productive life out of the hospital. When the Court noted that the defendant stated that he would take his medications, the Doctor commented “for a condition that he doesn’t believe he has”
The ultimate legal issue before the Court is whether the application of the Commissioner of Mental Health seeking a subsequent two- year retention order of the defendant pursuant to CPL 330.20 should be granted. The defendant is opposed to that application and is seeking his conditional release.
At a hearing on an application for retention, CPL 330.20 states that “the commissioner must establish to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant has a dangerous mental disorder or is mentally ill”. Furthermore, the statute states that “if the court finds that the defendant does not have a dangerous mental disorder and is not mentally ill, it must issue a release order and an order of conditions pursuant to subdivision 12 of this section”. CPL 330.20, entitled “Release order and order of conditions”, delineates the course of action that must be taken before, and during, a defendant’s release, and the responsibilities of the parties involved. It must be noted, that should a defendant be released, the Commissioner’s responsibility for, and his supervision over, the defendant would not be terminated.
The order only ends the defendant’s in-patient status. The defendant would be subject to an order of conditions, which must issue, and which will guarantee that the defendant will be supervised for years to come, unless the time comes, if ever, when the defendant earns the right to absolute discharge. Furthermore, a violation of the order of conditions will subject the defendant to recommitment to the hospital and to the custody of the Commissioner. The burden of proof for the application for retention is on the State, and it must establish that the defendant has a dangerous mental disorder or is mentally ill, by a preponderance of the evidence. Statutorily, the terms “dangerous mental disorder” and “mentally ill” have its own meanings in relation to CPL 330.20. A dangerous mental disorder, defined in CPL 330.20[c], “means (i)that a defendant currently suffers from a “mental illness” as that term is defined in subdivision twenty of section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law,29 and (ii) that because of such condition he currently constitutes a physical danger to himself or others”. Mentally ill, defined in CPL 330.20[d], “means that a defendant currently suffers from a mental illness for which care and treatment as a patient, in the in-patient services of a psychiatric center under the jurisdiction of the state office of mental health, is essential to such defendant’s welfare and that his judgment is so impaired that he is unable to understand the need for such care and treatment”.
Since the defendant was previously adjudicated non-dangerous, the relevant statute in this criminal case is CPL 330.20[d]. The Court must determine if the defendant is mentally ill. The New York State Court of Appeals has held that the term “mentally ill” has three distinguishing characteristics: “(1) illness is of a kind that requires inpatient care and treatment, (2) care and treatment of the illness are essential to the defendant’s welfare, and (3) because of impaired judgment the defendant does not understand the need for such care and treatment”
During the course of this retention hearing, the Court heard testimony from two very competent and very compelling doctors, and from the defendant and his wife. Upon careful review of their testimony, as well as the medical reports, the independent examiner’s report, and the entire record in this criminal case, the Court has concluded that the People have demonstrated “by a preponderance of the evidence that continued care and treatment are essential to the physical or psychological welfare of the defendant and that the defendant is unable to understand the need for such care and treatment”. Therefore, the Court finds that the People have met their burden of proving that the defendant is mentally ill as that term is defined statutorily in CPL 330.20. Assault was not charged.
Although the Court finds that there could be no disagreement between the parties as to the need for the defendant’s continued care and treatment, there certainly is a great deal of disagreement between the parties as to whether or not that care requires the defendant to receive inpatient treatment at Creedmoor. In resolving this issue, the Court has looked to the testimony of the witness doctors. While the doctors have no dispute that the defendant needs to be maintained on his medications in order for his symptoms to remain in remission, the other testified that the defendant requires further inpatient care to achieve this goal, while the other doctor testified that the defendant’s medication regimen can be successfully maintained upon his release.
Defendant is not yet ready for conditional release. Although the Court is granting the State’s application for a subsequent retention order, said subsequent retention order is to be for a period of ONE YEAR ONLY. This is the time period in which the doctor opined that the defendant, hopefully, could be ready for a change from his inpatient status at Creedmoor.