PETITION OF WAYNE SAWYER (New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services)
of Health and Human Services
Argued: September 14, 2016
Disability Rights Center-NH, Inc., of Concord (Aaron Ginsberg
on the brief and orally), for the petitioner.
Office of Joshua L. Gordon, of Concord (Joshua L. Gordon on
the brief and orally), for the respondent.
petitioner, Wayne Sawyer, has a developmental disability and
a history of mental illness. He currently receives
state-administered developmental and mental health services
and lives at the Laconia Designated Receiving Facility
(Laconia DRF), a state-operated facility in Laconia. Prior to
his move to Laconia DRF, the petitioner requested that his
area agency affiliation for developmental services be changed
to the respondent, Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS),
the area agency serving Laconia. LRCS denied his request. The
petitioner appealed to the
Appeals Unit (AAU) of the New Hampshire Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS). The AAU affirmed, finding that the
petitioner failed to prove that his move to Laconia DRF
constituted a change in legal residence.
petitioner challenges the AAU decision and has petitioned for
a writ of certiorari. See Sup. Ct. R. 11. We
Overview of Developmental and Mental Health Services
begin with an overview of the two statutory frameworks under
which the petitioner receives developmental and mental health
services. DHHS is responsible for establishing, maintaining,
and coordinating a "comprehensive service delivery
system for developmentally disabled persons, " known as
the developmental services system, RSA 171-A:1 Introductory
Language (2014), and a "comprehensive, effective and
efficient system of services for persons with mental illness,
" known as the mental health services system, RSA
135-C:1, I (2015). Although DHHS coordinates both systems
statewide, each is governed by distinct statutory and
administers the developmental services system pursuant to RSA
chapter 171-A. RSA 171-A:4 (2014). The policy underlying the
developmental services system is that persons with
developmental disabilities and their families be provided
with services "that emphasize community living, "
RSA 171-A:1 Introductory Language, that are "based on
individual choice, " RSA 171-A:1, V (2014), and that
allow them an opportunity to participate in decision-making,
RSA 171-A:1, I (2014). An individual's participation in
the developmental services system may be voluntary or
involuntary. See RSA 171-A:5 (2014). Participation
is voluntary unless the individual is involuntarily admitted
pursuant to RSA chapter 171-B (2014). RSA 171-A:5, I-II.
Persons voluntarily participating in the system have certain
statutory and regulatory rights, see RSA 171-A:14
(2014), and may, at any time, "seek a change in services
or withdraw entirely from the service delivery system, "
RSA 171-A:7 (2014); see also N.H. Admin. R., He-M
receive voluntary developmental services, an individual must
apply through the area agency serving his or her region.
See RSA 171-A:6, I (2014); N.H. Admin. R.,
He-M 503.04(b). The state is divided into ten regions, with
one area agency serving each region. N.H. Admin. R.,
He-M 505.04. Area agencies are the primary recipients of
funds dispensed by DHHS for use in administering
developmental services and programs, and as such, serve as
the nucleus of services for individuals living in each
service region. See RSA 171-A:18, I (2014); N.H.
Admin. R., He-M 505.03(a)-(b). Individuals can change
their area agency affiliation to an area agency in a
different region if they "plan to relocate where
[they] live" to that region. N.H. Admin. R.,
He-M 503.14(a). Area agencies are responsible for, among
other things, screening for eligibility, identifying
appropriate services, and developing and reviewing service
agreements. See RSA 171-A:6, II (2014); RSA
171-A:18, I; N.H. Admin. R., He-M 505.03. In
addition to the basic developmental services provided by
regional area agencies, individuals may also receive
developmental services through a variety of other programs or
institutions. See, e.g., N.H. Admin. R.,
He-M 507 (community participation services), He-M 524
(in-home services), HeM 1001 (community residences).
Mental Health Services
administers the mental health services system pursuant to RSA
chapter 135-C. See RSA 135-C:5, I (2015). The
purpose of the mental health services system is to provide
mentally disabled individuals "adequate and humane care
which, to the extent possible, " is "[w]ithin each
person's own community, " "[l]east restrictive
of the person's freedom of movement and ability to
function normally in society while being appropriate to the
person's individual capacity, " and "[d]irected
toward eliminating the need for services and promoting the
person's independence." RSA 135-C:1, II (2015).
Individuals may receive mental health services on a voluntary
or involuntary basis. See RSA 135-C:12, I-II (2015);
RSA 135-C:20-:54 (2015 & Supp. 2016). Both classes of
admittees have certain statutory and regulatory rights.
See RSA 135-C:55-:60 (2015); N.H. Admin.
R., He-M 309, 311.
mental health services system is also organized regionally,
with one designated community mental health program serving
each of ten regions. See N.H. Admin. R., He-M
425.03(a)-(b). Community mental health programs are tasked
with providing, either directly or through a contractual
relationship, an array of services to eligible individuals,
including intake assessments, case management, medication
services, and psychotherapy. RSA 135-C:7 (2015); N.H.
Admin. R., He-M 403.06(a). Though mental health services
are organized by regional community mental health programs,
other facilities, including the New Hampshire Hospital, also
deliver mental health services. See, e.g., RSA
135-C:26, I (2015); N.H. Admin. R., He-M 1002
record supports the following facts. The petitioner is an
individual with a developmental disability who is eligible to
receive developmental services pursuant to RSA chapter 171-A.
Prior to 2008, he lived in Concord and received his area