Session March 22, 2017
from the Probate Court for Davidson County No. 16P-1162 Randy
M. Kennedy, Judge
prison inmate appeals the trial court's decision to
appoint a limited conservator for healthcare decisions over
the inmate and give the conservator the authority to consent
to the forcible treatment on behalf of the inmate. Discerning
no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Probate
Ross Dickerson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andreé S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; Eric A.
Fuller, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee,
Tennessee Department of Correction.
Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which Brandon O. Gibson and Kenny Armstrong, JJ.,
STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE
George Todd is an inmate in the custody of the
Petitioner/Appellee Tennessee Department of Correction
("TDOC"). In 1995, Mr. Todd entered into a
negotiated plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty
to second degree murder for a sentence of forty-five years.
Mr. George's sentence is currently set to expire in
not the first conservatorship case involving Mr. Todd and
TDOC. Mr. Todd was previously adjudicated mentally
incompetent and placed under a limited conservatorship. This
limited conservatorship terminated upon Mr. Todd's parole
from prison in 2012, but he soon returned to TDOC custody in
November 2013, after violating his parole. Accordingly, TDOC
filed a petition in January 2016 to again have Mr. Todd
placed under a limited conservatorship in order to make
health care decisions. Mr. Todd opposed the petition. Prior
to an evidentiary hearing on the petition, Mr. Todd's
mental health improved to the point that his treating
physician no longer believed that a limited conservatorship
was appropriate. The petition was therefore voluntarily
dismissed with prejudice.
in the opinion of Mr. Todd's physician, his mental health
began to seriously deteriorate. Consequently, on July 7,
2016, TDOC filed another petition for a limited
conservatorship over Mr. Todd. TDOC specifically requested
that the conservator appointed be given authority "to
provide consent for medical and psychiatric treatment that
[Mr. Todd] may require while he is incarcerated; including
the forcible administration of medications if the conservator
finds that such is necessary." On the same day the
petition was filed, TDOC filed a motion to submit a report
from two evaluations performed on Mr. Todd: one by Mr.
Todd's treating physician, prison physician Dr. Molly
O'Toole, and one by the independent Treatment Review
Committee. Dr. O'Toole noted in her evaluation that Mr.
Todd currently suffers from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar
type. Dr. O'Toole opined that Mr. Todd's condition
had deteriorated since he stopped taking psychotropic
medication, making him unable to be an informed participant
in decisions about his healthcare. Dr. O'Toole further
noted that Mr. Todd admitted to having split personalities
and once informed Dr. O'Toole that he "could kill
[Dr. O'Toole] because [she is] a witch." Similarly,
the psychiatrist who performed the independent evaluation
noted that Mr. Todd "exhibit[ed] active signs of mental
illness, " despite his refusal to acknowledge his
disorder, and recommended involuntary administration of
trial court appointed Mr. Todd both a guardian ad litem and
an attorney ad litem. The guardian ad litem filed a detailed
report after meeting with Mr. Todd, his family members, and
his former co-worker, who reported conflicting views of Mr.
Todd's mental health. According to Mr. Todd's mother
and sister, Mr. Todd often experiences periods of stability
followed by mental breakdowns, especially while incarcerated.
Mr. Todd's sister insisted that Mr. Todd could not be
trusted, that he does not have a firm grasp on reality, and
that he has claimed to be God, Jesus, or other religious
figures. According to Mr. Todd's sister, he had
"gone off the deep end" after his parole was
revoked and his father passed away. Mr. Todd's sister
also indicated that Mr. Todd suffers from paranoia and
believes that "everyone is out to get him." In
November 2015, Mr. Todd met with his sister in prison; Mr.
Todd's sister indicated that he "acted very
strangely and was alternating between extreme emotions,
crying one moment and laughing the next." Mr. Todd's
mother likewise stated that Mr. Todd once claimed to be the
devil and that he suffers from delusions.
contrast, Mr. Todd's co-worker while he was on parole
testified to Mr. Todd's stability when not incarcerated.
According to the co-worker, Mr. Todd helped her give
presentations at work, maintained his own clean apartment,
paid all his bills, and otherwise did "extremely well
adjusting to life outside of prison." According to the
co-worker, Mr. Todd was not taking medications while on
parole because "he wanted his mind to be clear."
Mr. Todd's co-worker also believed that the revocation of
Mr. Todd's parole was wrongful and that he was fully
capable of managing his own affairs without a conservator.
medical records detailed in the guardian ad litem's
report, however, told a starkly different picture of Mr.
Todd's mental health after he was incarcerated in
November 2013. According to the record, Mr. Todd engaged in a
planned hunger strike from September 9th to September 12th,
2015 to protest the revocation of his parole. At the time the
strike began, the records indicated that Mr. Todd was
exhibiting no delusions. By September 12th, however, Mr. Todd
was "displaying paranoid behavior and . . . claimed that
he had been kidnapped and the Governor was going to pick him
up." On October 5, 2015, the records indicated that Mr.
Todd was exhibiting odd behavior, such as delusions,
confusion as to why he was in custody, and "a decline in
the activities of daily living." At this point, Mr. Todd
was diagnosed with Schizophrenia Disorder, and the
appointment of a conservator was recommended by his
physician. On October 15, 2015, Mr. Todd further declined,
exhibiting mania, delusions, varying mood, lack of time
reality, lack of hygiene, and "refusal of clothes,
bedding, and food." The guardian ad litem noted that Mr.
Todd was noncompliant "off and on through October,
November, and December." The records note, however, that
Mr. Todd stabilized once he began taking his medication
guardian ad litem also met in person with Mr. Todd in
February 2016. At the time, Mr. Todd was voluntarily taking
an anti-psychotic medication to avoid forcible injections.
During this meeting, the guardian ad litem found Mr. Todd to
be well-spoken, articulate, and well-informed regarding his
current incarceration, treatment, diagnosis, and history. Mr.
Todd denied that he currently or previously suffered from a
mental illness; instead, Mr. Todd claims that his
Schizophrenia diagnosis was the result of "false answers
he had given on examinations as a way of protecting his
incarceration." Mr. Todd explained that although he does
not need the medication prescribed and does not wish to take
it, he had agreed to voluntarily take his medication rather
than receive forcible injections. The guardian ad litem noted
that the only time that Mr. Todd exhibited odd behavior was
during the discussion of his religious beliefs, when he
claimed that "the prison wanted to medicate him
specifically to 'train out' his religious
guardian ad litem's report also discussed Mr. Todd's
educational efforts during his period of parole. According to
records from National College, Mr. Todd consistently attended
classes from Spring 2013 to Spring 2015. During this time,
Mr. Todd "seems to have done quite well." In the
May term of 2015, however, Mr. Todd attempted only two
classes, withdrawing from one, and thereafter withdrew from
all classes. The guardian ad litem could find no explanation
for Mr. Todd's decision to stop attending classes when he
was so close to receiving his Associate's Degree.
the guardian ad litem made its recommendation as to whether a
conservatorship was needed. The trial court first noted that
the case was "extremely difficult and . . . required
more investigation and time than typically needed." The
guardian ad litem noted that while Mr. Todd appeared to have
functioned well outside of prison, he had substantially
deteriorated since his return to incarceration, such that he
has "serious difficulty managing his mental
condition." Because of Mr. Todd's serious mental
breakdowns during times of stress, " his delusions, and