What Is the Criteria for Involuntary Commitment In Texas ?

Traditionally, there has been only one burden of proof or quantum of evidence necessary to determine fact questions in civil cases, i.e., preponderance of the evidence. See Ellis County State Bank, 888 S.W.2d at 792 (Tex. 1994). In 1979, however, the United States Supreme Court commanded the Texas Supreme Court to impose an elevated burden of proof in civil commitment cases to meet due process demands. See Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 432-33, 60 L. Ed. 2d 323, 99 S. Ct. 1804 (1979). On remand, the Texas Supreme Court prescribed a heightened burden of proof for civil commitment actions. See State v. Addington, 588 S.W.2d 569, 570 (Tex. 1979). The court described the new burden of proof as the "clear and convincing evidence" standard. Id. The following year, the Texas Supreme Court imposed this new burden of proof in cases involving the involuntary termination of parental rights. See In the Interest of G.M., 596 S.W.2d 846, 847 (Tex. 1980). In 1995, the Legislature imposed the "clear and convincing evidence" standard in such cases when it amended the Family Code. See Act of May 24, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 709, 1, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 3745. Thus, at least in cases involving civil commitments or the involuntary termination of parental rights, the "clear and convincing evidence" standard is not just a cautionary admonition, but an intermediate burden of proof falling between the preponderance standard of ordinary civil proceedings and the reasonable doubt standard of criminal proceedings. Id. When used to define a burden of proof, "clear and convincing" means "that measure or degree of proof which will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established." Transport Ins. Co. v. Moriel, 879 S.W.2d 10, 31 (Tex. 1994).