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State v. Vasquez

Appellate Court of Connecticut

December 17, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Ruben VASQUEZ

         Argued September 24, 2019

         The Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, D’Addabbo, J.

Page 1019

          Monte P. Radler, public defender, with whom was Richard E. Condon, Jr., senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (acquittee).

         Sarah Hanna, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, Vicki Melchiorre, supervisory assistant state’s attorney, and Adam B. Scott, supervisory assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Bright, Moll and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

         BISHOP, J.

         [194 Conn.App. 832] The acquittee,[1] Ruben Vasquez, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his application for discharge from the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board (board).[2] On appeal, the acquittee claims that the court erred in denying his application for discharge because the diagnoses attributed to him— cannabis induced psychotic episode, an acute intoxication now in full remission; cannabis use disorder in remission in a controlled environment; and alcohol use disorder in remission in a controlled environment— are not considered mental illnesses and, thus, do not constitute psychiatric disabilities under General Statutes § § 17a-580 through 17a-602 (board statutes). We affirm the judgment of the court.

         [194 Conn.App. 833] The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our analysis. "[On July 14, 2009, the acquittee] ... randomly attack[ed] five young individuals, with a four foot six inch [one by four] hard yellow pine pressure treated board. Two of the young individuals attacked were a three and one year old child. While being taken into custody, [the acquittee] physically attacked a police officer."

         The acquittee was charged with four counts of assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60 (a) (2), two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1), four counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-49 and 53a-50 (a) (1), and two counts of assault of a peace officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167c (a) (1).[3] On June 7, 2011, the acquittee was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-13.[4] On August 8, 2011,

Page 1020

the court, Randolph, J., committed the acquittee to the jurisdiction of the board and ordered that he be confined at Dutcher Service on the campus of the Connecticut Val-ley Hospital for a period not to exceed fifteen years.

         On July 25, 2017, in accordance with § 17a-593 (a), the acquittee filed an application with the court seeking discharge from the jurisdiction of the board. The court forwarded the application to the board, which held a hearing on September 15, 2017, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-593 (d). On October 26, 2017, the board filed its report with the court recommending that the acquittee not be discharged because "[a]lthough [the [194 Conn.App. 834] acquittee’s] psychotic symptoms have not been active since his commitment to the [b]oard, he has repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment, impulsivity, deceitfulness and rule breaking behavior. He has disregarded the rules and protocols in a hospital setting, thereby jeopardizing the [t]emporary [l]eave that would have permitted [the acquittee] to transition to the community. [The acquittee’s] treatment team has recommended he consider medication to assist with some of his problematic behaviors, but he has declined the recommendation."

          In addition, in its report filed with the court, the board discussed the acquittee’s risk factors, stating that "[a] significant risk factor for [the acquittee] remains his history of substance use. As testimony indicated, a substance use relapse would increase [the acquittee’s] risk for a re-emergence of his psychotic symptoms. Testimony noted that stress has the potential to exacerbate [the acquittee’s] risk of relapse. If discharged from the jurisdiction of the [b]oard, [the acquittee] would return to the community without an established support network. Given that [the acquittee’s] psychotic symptoms are intimately tied to his substance use, and [that the acquittee] failed to conform his behavior appropriately in a supervised inpatient setting, the [b]oard finds that [the acquittee’s] risk for a substance abuse relapse in a nonsupervised setting without an established ...


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