2020 Mass. App. Div. 34

September 13, 2019 - March 18, 2020

Appellate Division Southern District

Court Below: District Court, Brockton Division

Present: Finnerty, P.J., Cunis & Campbell, JJ.

Robert E. Conlon for the petitioner.

Adam M. Bond for the respondent.

CAMPBELL, J. The issue before this Division, as framed by the respondent, is whether an individual held on a Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") detainer is a prisoner subject to commitment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18. Recently, that question was answered in the affirmative by this Division. See Matter of A.E., 2019 Mass. App. Div. 5. There is no reason to revisit this Division's previous decision.

At the time of his recommitment [Note 1] to Bridgewater State Hospital ("BSH"), M.B. was twenty-seven years old. He suffers from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. He experienced a history of psychiatric admissions that involved treatment with antipsychotic medications.

ICE arrested M.B. in Portland, Maine. On January 31, 2018, M.B. was transported to the Bristol County house of correction in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He was held there on an ICE detainer.

While at the Bristol County house of correction, M.B. was agitated, psychotic, disorganized, and suffered from an inability to control his behavior. Additionally, he was not paying proper attention to his activities of daily living, not sleeping well, exhibited internal preoccupation, and was self-dialoging and eating the stuffing from his mattress. On February 13, 2018, pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a), M.B. was transferred to BSH for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

On March 14, 2018, BSH filed a petition for M.B.'s commitment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a) and a petition for authorization for treatment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 8B. As permitted by G.L. c. 123, § 6(b), M.B. signed a waiver, waiving his right to a commitment hearing. He was committed to BSH and a treatment order entered.

On September 19, 2018, BSH filed a recommitment petition pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a). On December 5, 2018, M.B. was recommitted and a treatment order was entered pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 8B. On December 14, 2018, M.B. filed a notice of appeal pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 9(a).

While M.B. raised several issues in his notice of appeal, he pursues only one before this Division. [Note 2]

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That issue is whether an individual held on an ICE detainer is a prisoner subject to commitment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18.

Section 18(a) of G.L. c. 123 states:

If the person in charge of any place of detention within the commonwealth has reason to believe that a person confined therein is in need of hospitalization by reason of mental illness at a facility of the department or at the Bridgewater state hospital, he shall cause such prisoner to be examined at such place of detention by a physician or psychologist, designated by the department as qualified to perform such examination. Said physician or psychologist shall report the results of the examination to the district court which has jurisdiction over the place of detention or, if the prisoner is awaiting trial, to the court which has jurisdiction over the criminal case. Such report shall include an opinion, with reasons therefore, as to whether such hospitalization is actually required. The court which receives such report may order the prisoner to be taken to a facility or, if a male, to the Bridgewater state hospital to be received for examination and observation for a period not to exceed thirty days. After completion of such examination and observation, a written report shall be sent to such court and to the person in charge of the place of detention. Such report shall be signed by the physician or psychologist conducting such examination, and shall contain an evaluation, supported by clinical findings, of whether the prisoner is in need of further treatment and care at a facility or, if a male, the Bridgewater state hospital by reason of mental illness. The person in charge of the place of detention shall have the same right as the superintendent of a facility and the medical director of the Bridgewater state hospital to file a petition with the court which received the results of the examination for the commitment of the person to a facility or to the Bridgewater state hospital; provided, however, that, notwithstanding the court's failure, after an initial hearing or after any subsequent hearing, to make a finding required for commitment to the Bridgewater state hospital, the prisoner shall be confined at said hospital if the findings required for commitment to a facility

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are made and if the commissioner of correction certifies to the court that confinement of the prisoner at said hospital is necessary to insure his continued retention in custody. An initial court order of commitment issued subject to the provisions of this section shall be valid for a six-month period, and all subsequent commitments during the term of the sentence shall take place under the provisions of sections seven and eight and shall be valid for one year" (emphasis added).

Statutes must be read in a way to give them a sensible meaning. Matter of E.C., 89 Mass. App. Ct. 813, 817 (2016), quoting Beeler v. Downey, 387 Mass. 609, 616 (1982). "It is a fundamental principle of statutory construction that 'statutory language should be given effect consistent with its plain meaning and in light of the aim of the Legislature unless to do so would achieve an illogical result.'" Commonwealth v. Hatch, 438 Mass. 618, 622 (2003), quoting Sullivan v. Town of Brookline, 435 Mass. 353, 360 (2001). Where the text is unclear or ambiguous, "'a statute must be interpreted according to the intent of the Legislature ascertained from all of its words construed by the ordinary and approved usage of the language, considered in connection with the cause of its enactment, the mischief or imperfection to be remedied and the main object to be accomplished, to the end that the purpose of its framers may be effectuated.' Telesetsky v. Wight, 395 Mass. 868, 872 (1985), quoting from Commonwealth v. Galvin, 388 Mass. 326, 328 (1983)." Matter of E.C., supra at 816.

The purpose behind the legislative enactment of G.L. c. 123, § 18(a) is clear. It is set forth in the first sentence of the statute. That purpose is to permit "the person in charge of any place of detention" to seek hospitalization for the treatment of mental illness involving "a person confined therein." G.L. c. 123, § 18(a). See also Matter of P.I., 2014 Mass. App. Div. 116, 118-119. As the language of the statute continues, the use of the word "prisoner" appears as a shorthand substitute for reference back to a person confined in a place of detention. Cf. Commonwealth v. Graziano, 96 Mass. App. Ct. 601, 605 (2019), quoting Reade v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 472 Mass. 573, 584 (2015) (stating "[w]e decline to construe [a statute] in a manner that is plainly inconsistent with its central purpose, notwithstanding the susceptibility of the statute's plain language to such a construction").

In a previous decision interpreting the meaning of G.L. c. 123, § 18(a), this Division found that a courthouse meets the definition of being a place of detention and a District Court judge the person in charge of the place of detention for purposes of ordering a mental health commitment pursuant to the statute. See Matter of P.I., supra at 119 (courthouse meets definition of place of detention, and judge meets definition of person in charge for purpose of ordering mental health evaluation for pretrial detainee). See also Matter of A.G., 2018 Mass. App. Div. 15 (§ 18(a) enacted to enable person in charge of place of detention to order mental health services).

Turning specifically to the issue raised by M.B. in this case, we note that it was directly addressed in Matter of A.E., 2019 Mass. App. Div. 5. There, the respondent, an ICE detainee, challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the court to consider a commitment petition. He argued that because he was not serving a sentence or awaiting trial, he was not a prisoner subject to commitment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18. In rejecting the respondent's argument, this Division held that "G.L. c. 123, § 18 is designed to allow the managers of particular institutions to transfer a confined

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person to another institution for mental health treatment. The use of the word prisoner, then, in § 18, does not refer to the detention status of people, but rather the nature of the particular place (county house of correction, jail, or prisons) in which they are confined. The Legislature drafted § 18 to provide the proper process and treatment of those who suffer from a mental illness that are lawfully confined in a penal institution, regardless of whether they ended up there on criminal process, civil contempt, or, as in this case, pursuant to a federal arrangement for civil detainees" (emphasis added). Id. at 8. There is no reason raised by M.B. that would bring us to alter that previous finding of this Division.

The appeal is dismissed.


[Note 1] M.B. waived his right to an original commitment hearing. This case involves a petition for M.B.'s recommitment.

[Note 2] M.B.'s notice of appeal indicates he is appealing: 1) "the Order of this Court (Brennan, J.), dated December 5, 2018 committing Respondent to a facility of the Department of Mental Health pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a), namely that the admissible evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to commit him"; 2) "from the issuance of a Certification and continued detention of him at Bridgewater State Hospital by the Department of Correction entered on December 5, 2018, pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 18(a)"; and 3) that "[t]he admissible evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support the Court's allowance of Bridgewater State Hospital's Petition for Determination of Incompetence and Authorization for Medical Treatment pursuant to G.L. c. 123, § 8B." In his brief, M.B. presents only one issue for this Division's review. That issue is whether "an ICE detainee [is] a 'prisoner' subject to commitment pursuant to G.L. [c.] 123, [§] 18." Where M.B. raises only a single issue in his appellate brief, all other issues set forth in M.B.'s notice of appeal are waived. See Parekh Constr., Inc., v. Pitt Constr. Corp., 31 Mass. App. Ct. 354, 358 n.4 (1991), citing Mass. R. A. P. 16(a)(4); Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Khursheed, 2019 Mass. App. Div. 71, 73, citing Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 16(a)(4).