Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice ROGELIO VALDEZ.
This is an accelerated appeal of the trial court's order committing appellant, S.R., to a mental health facility for the provision of temporary mental health services. See TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 574.070(a) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). By one issue, appellant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's commitment order in appellate cause number 13-17-00129-CV. We affirm.
The evidence at the commitment hearing showed the following. In December 2016, while responding to a welfare concern, a McAllen police officer found appellant sitting on a street curb wrapped in a blanket with her dog. According to the police officer, appellant had been seen wandering the streets the day before and appeared to be talking to her daughter although nobody was in her immediate presence. Appellant was not able to tell the officer where she lived. The police officer contacted appellant's daughters, but efforts to reunite appellant with her daughters were unsuccessful. The police officer then contacted appellant's mother. Appellant's mother agreed to take possession of appellant's dog but stated that she and appellant's daughters were afraid of appellant.
At the commitment hearing, appellant disputed the doctor's diagnosis regarding her mental health. Appellant testified that certain agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are protecting her from her ex-husband and that she was waiting on them for a ride when the McAllen police officer approached her on the street curb. Appellant further testified:
After hearing the evidence, the trial court entered an order committing appellant to a mental health facility not to exceed ninety days for the provision of temporary mental health services. In its commitment order, the trial court specifically found that:
This appeal followed.
By one issue, appellant contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to support the trial court's commitment order.
A. Standard of Review
We may sustain a legal sufficiency challenge only when "(1) the record discloses a complete absence of evidence of a vital fact; (2) the court is barred by rules of law or of evidence from giving weight to the only evidence offered to prove a vital fact; (3) the evidence offered to prove a vital fact is no more than a mere scintilla; or (4) the evidence establishes conclusively the opposite of a vital fact." Damian v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., 352 S.W.3d 124, 156-57 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2011, pet. denied) (citing Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. v. Martinez, 977 S.W.2d 328, 334 (Tex. 1998)). In conducting a legal-sufficiency review, "we consider only the evidence and inferences tending to support the finding, and we disregard all contrary evidence and inferences." M.S. v. State, 137 S.W.3d 131, 135 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, no pet.). We will uphold the decision if any evidence of probative force exists to support the finding. Id.
B. Applicable Law
Section 574.034 of the Texas Health and Safety Code prescribes specific criteria that authorizes a judge to order a proposed patient to receive temporary inpatient mental health services. TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 574.034 (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). Specifically, subsection (a) prescribes the following criteria:
Id. § 574.034(a).
"Clear and convincing" evidence is generally defined as that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the judge a "firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established." TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 41.001(2) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). More specifically, subsection (d) of section 574.034 identifies the kind of evidence that would supply clear and convincing proof of the criteria listed in subsection (a). TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 574.034(d). Subsection (d) states that:
Id. Additionally, evidence which merely reflects that an individual is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization is not sufficient, by itself, to prove an overt act or continuing pattern of behavior as required by subsection (d). See G.H. v. State, 96 S.W.3d 629, 634 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, no pet.) (concluding that the proposed patient's behavior of spitting and mood changes that the doctor relied on as the factual basis for his opinion that appellant was unable to function independently constituted nothing more than evidence of appellant's mental illness and therefore did not amount to evidence tending to confirm that appellant was unable to provide for her own basic needs); see also Broussard v. State, 827 S.W.2d 619, 622 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1992, no writ) (holding that evidence of the proposed patient's delusion and vague generalizations about her hostile behavior during hospitalization, without further factual elaboration, do not show deterioration of her ability to function independently).
Finally, as relevant here, section 574.034, subsection (c), provides that if the judge finds that the proposed patient meets the commitment criteria prescribed by subsection (a), the judge must specify which criterion listed in subsection (a)(2) forms the basis for the decision. TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 574.034(c).
In accordance with subsection (c), the trial court specifically found that appellant met the criterion set out in subsection (a)(2)(C)(i)-(iii). Id. § 574.034(a)(2)(C). This means that the trial court necessarily found that appellant was mentally ill and that, as a result of that mental illness, she was, as set out in subsection (a):
On appeal, appellant concedes that she has a mental illness. Appellant also concedes that as a result of her mental illness, she suffers the kind of distress described by (i) and is unable to make the kind of rational decision regarding treatment described by (iii). However, she maintains that there is no clear and convincing proof that her mental illness has deteriorated her ability to function independently to the level described by (ii) because the State did not offer the kind of evidence set out in subsection (d) to support that finding—i.e., the State did not offer "expert testimony and . . . evidence of a recent overt act or a continuing pattern of behavior that tends to confirm . . . the deterioration of [her] ability to function." Id. § 574.034(d). We disagree.
The doctor testified that:
The doctor's testimony provides some evidence of appellant's continuing pattern of behavior that at least tends to confirm her inability to feed or house herself or to provide for her own safety.
Furthermore, in order to sustain her legal sufficiency challenge, the evidence would have to conclusively establish that appellant's ability to function independently has not deteriorated as a result of her mental illness. See Damian, 352 S.W.3d at 156-57 (observing that reviewing courts may sustain a legal sufficiency challenge if the evidence conclusively establishes the opposite of a vital fact). In this vein, we recognize that there is some testimony indicating that appellant had been living in an apartment at the time of the commitment hearing. However, the trial court, as the factfinder, was not required to believe that testimony. See Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v. Garza, 164 S.W.3d 607 (Tex. 2004) (observing that issues of witness credibility generally cannot be weighed by an appellate court). Moreover, even if it were true that appellant was living in her own apartment at the time of the commitment hearing, appellant provides no authority and we find none that such evidence, by itself, conclusively demonstrates an ability to function independently.
We conclude that there is more than a scintilla of competent evidence demonstrating a continuing pattern of behavior that tends to confirm appellant's inability to function independently. See TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 574.034(a)(2)(C)(ii); see also Damian, 352 S.W.3d at 156-57. We hold that the evidence is legally sufficient to support the trial court's commitment order, and we overrule appellant's sole issue.
The record shows that appellant filed a separate notice of appeal from the trial court's order to administer psychoactive medication. Appellant's appeal from this order has been assigned appellate cause number 13-17-00061-CV. However, appellant raises no issue on appeal challenging the propriety of that order. We therefore affirm the trial court's order to administer psychoactive medication.
We affirm the trial court's orders in both 13-17-00061-CV and 13-17-00129-CV.