Winnebago County v. T.G., 2022AP2078, District 2, 6/14/23 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

At the final hearing on a petition to commit T.G. (“Thomas”) under § 51.20, the County presented evidence he threw urine and feces at a guard on one occasion and later made a threat that he’d act in a way that would require staff to “suit up” and do a cell extraction and then “hurt” staff. (¶¶3-5). Considered together, this evidence satisfied the dangerousness standard under § 51.20(1)(a)2.b.

Under § 51.20(1)(a)2.b., the County needed to prove that Thomas:

[e]vidences a substantial probability of physical harm to other individuals as manifested [(1)] by evidence of recent homicidal or other violent behavior, or [(2)] by evidence that others are placed in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm to them, as evidenced by a recent overt act, attempt or threat to do serious physical harm.

The court concludes the evidence satisfied alternative (2), rejecting Thomas’s argument that the two incidents together didn’t satisfy that alternative and that his threat was too vague to establish a substantial probability of physical harm:

¶13     …. Together, Thomas’ recent overt act of planning and executing the throwing of a urine-feces substance at the sergeant, which had the potential to spread disease from Thomas to the sergeant, and the recent threat to “hurt staff” made directly to the WRC staff member respectively constitute an act and a threat “to do serious physical harm,”… would have placed others “in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm,” and particularly because they occurred within weeks of each other and without any provocation, “[e]vidence[d] a substantial probability” Thomas would cause physical harm to others. ….