A former Riverview Psychiatric Center patient lost his appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court this week when the justices ruled that a lower court had made the right decision by sending him to the Maine State Prison, rather than back to the psychiatric hospital.

Michael J. James, 32, has about seven years remaining on a 12-year robbery sentence from superior court in Auburn plus a couple of years for other assault convictions. His attorney, Harold Hainke, told the justices during oral arguments in June that James suffers from intermittent explosive disorder and is violent and dangerous.

“He’s a danger to himself and others because of his mental defect,” Hainke said.

Assistant District Attorney David Spencer, representing the state, which sought to have James removed from the hospital, told the justices that an expert who did a detailed history of James said he had learned his bad behavior earlier in life. The lower court ruled that James no longer should be in the custody of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, but should be in the correctional system.

While at Riverview, James caused about $20,000 worth of damage to the hospital and allegedly threatened to harm and kill staff members.

When James made the threats to staff on Dec. 4, 2013, he had “a chain wrapped around his hand and he attempted to hit staff members with it,” according to an affidavit by Capitol Police Officer Richard Alexander.

Alexander said that after making the threats, “Mr. James was locked in an isolation room where he cut his arm with a piece of glass.”

Spencer also said he has seen improvement in some people placed at the Special Mental Health Unit at the Maine State Prison, where James is being held.

Ultimately, in its Tuesday decision, the supreme court agreed with the trial court, which ruled that “James’ dangerousness — which still exists — is not the result of a mental disease or defect and that therefore DHHS can no longer maintain James in its custody.”


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