Ex Parte: South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Appellant,
Rocky A. Linkhorn, Respondent. In re: State of South Carolina, Respondent, Appellate Case No. 2013-002208
December 3, 2015
From Lexington County J. Michael Baxley, Circuit Court Judge
F. Lindemann and William H. Davidson, II, both of Davidson
& Lindemann, P.A., of Columbia; General Counsel Tana G.
Vanderbilt, of South Carolina Department of Disabilities and
Special Needs, of Columbia, for Appellant.
Attorney General Alan M. Wilson, Deputy Solicitor General J.
Emory Smith, Jr., and Assistant Attorney General T. Parkin
Hunter, all of Columbia, and Public Defender Elizabeth C.
Fullwood, of Lexington, for Respondents.
A. Linkhorn was arrested and charged with Criminal Sexual
Conduct with a Minor in the First Degree, Lewd Act on a
Minor, and Disseminating Obscene Material to a Minor. After
finding Linkhorn was incompetent to stand trial and unlikely
to become fit in the foreseeable future, the circuit court
ordered the solicitor to initiate judicial admission
proceedings in the probate court to have Linkhorn
involuntarily committed to the South Carolina Department of
Disabilities and Special Needs ("DDSN"). Before the
probate court determined whether Linkhorn was intellectually
disabled, the solicitor filed a motion for a rule to show
cause in the circuit court, requesting DDSN be ruled into
court "to show just cause for services being denied to
[Linkhorn] as previously ordered." The circuit court
granted the solicitor's motion and ordered DDSN to,
inter alia, take custody of Linkhorn and house him
in a secure facility until the probate court determines
whether Linkhorn is intellectually disabled. Additionally,
the court prohibited DDSN from refusing involuntary
commitment of individuals similarly situated to Linkhorn.
DDSN appealed. We certified the appeal pursuant to Rule
204(b), SCACR. For reasons which will be discussed, we
case concerns the application of the South Carolina
Intellectual Disability, Related Disabilities, Head Injuries,
and Spinal Cord Injuries Act("Act") and certain
provisions under Title 44, Chapter 23 of the South Carolina
Code. The Act and Title 44, Chapter 23 contain competing
definitions of the term "intellectual disability."
The crux of the issue before the Court is which definition is
applicable to Linkhorn.
recitation of the facts and the tortured procedural history
of this case are unnecessary to determine the resolution of
the ultimate issue presented. The uncontroverted evidence
shows that Linkhorn suffers from dementia caused by an anoxic
brain injury resulting from Linkhorn's attempt to hang
himself. Linkhorn has numerous cognitive and intellectual
deficits in addition to slow speech and difficulty performing
certain motor activities. It is noteworthy that
Linkhorn's disability did not manifest until he was
twenty-three years of age.
44, Chapter 23 outlines, inter alia, the procedures
for individuals found unfit to stand trial. These provisions
apply to both the mentally ill and persons with intellectual
disabilities. Under this Chapter, "person
with intellectual disability" is defined as:
a person, other than a person with a mental illness primarily
in need of mental health services, whose inadequately
developed or impaired intelligence and adaptive level of
behavior require for the person's benefit, or that of the
public, special training, education, supervision, treatment,
care, or control in the person's home or community or in
a service facility or program under the control and
management of the Department of Disabilities and Special
S.C. Code Ann. § 44-23-10(21) (Supp. 2015). This
definition does not have an age limitation. The General
Assembly limited the application of this definition to Title
44, Chapters 9, 11, 13, 17, 23, 24, 27, 48, and 52.
Id. § 44-23-10 (Supp. 2015). Notably absent
from this list is Title 44, Chapter 20.
sets forth specific procedures applicable to judicial
admission proceedings concerning the involuntary commitment
of an individual to DDSN once the individual is found unfit
to stand trial. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-20-450 (Supp. 2015).
Under section 44-20-450(A)(8) of the Act, if an individual is
found unfit to stand trial, the solicitor responsible for the
criminal prosecution pursuant to section 44-23-430 is
authorized to initiate judicial admission proceedings for the
involuntary commitment of the individual to DDSN as long as
the individual has an "intellectual disability" or
"related disability." "Intellectual
disability" is defined under the Act as
"significantly sub average general intellectual
functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive