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People v. Gerich

AUGUST 28, 1974.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

PAUL GERICH, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. DEMPSEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JOHNSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On February 16, 1972, Paul Gerich was found to be a "person in need of mental treatment" at a hearing before the Honorable Robert J. Dempsey sitting without a jury. The court ordered that respondent be kept for treatment at Chicago State Hospital. He was released on an absolute discharge February 29, 1972, but urges in this appeal that the order be vacated and expunged from his records.

The issues presented for our review are:

1. Whether the evidence supported the court's finding that respondent was a person in need of mental treatment; and

2. Whether the procedures used to obtain respondent's hospitalization complied with the requirements of the Illinois Mental Health Code. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 91 1/2.

On February 9, 1972, a petition for hospitalization was filed in the circuit court of Cook County by Joan S. Frenz, alleging that respondent was a "person in need of mental treatment" as defined in section 1-11 of the Mental Health Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 91 1/2.) The petition stated: (1) the nearest known relative of respondent was his brother, John Gerich, of 3719 So. 57th Avenue, Chicago; (2) respondent was presently in the custody of the circuit court at the House of Correction; (3) the facts supporting the allegation that respondent was in need of mental treatment could be proved by the certificate of Dr. Eugene Stern, a physician at 1121 South State Street, Chicago, who had personal knowledge of the case; and (4) this was an emergency case in that respondent was likely to physically harm himself or others if not hospitalized immediately.

The petition stated no other factual basis for the opinion. However, attached to the petition was a certificate of need for hospitalization filed by Eugene Stern, M.D., stating that he examined respondent on February 9, 1972, and found:

"Patient to be virtually totally deaf and unable to verbalize in an intelligible manner. Patient was interviewed by written notes and his response showed confusion and his replies were quite irrelevant. He admits to past care at Kankakee State. There is disorientation as to time and place. He admits to recent and past alcoholic excess. Judgment is poor. He notes that he has no funds. He appears bewildered and perplexed. He is presently unable to care for himself. Diagnosis: Organic Brain Syndrome associated with alcoholic deterioration."

The certificate concluded with Dr. Stern's opinion that respondent was in need of mental treatment and should be admitted to a hospital immediately as an emergency for the protection from physical harm to himself and others.

Respondent was admitted to the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center on February 9, 1972, pursuant to the emergency admission provisions of the Mental Health Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 91 1/2, § 7-1.) On February 10, 1972, he was examined by Dr. Emillio Jomarron, who filed a Certificate of Need for Hospitalization which stated the following findings:

"Confused, disoriented as to time and place. Almost incoherent. Remarkable [sic] impaired intellect. Confabulatory. History of Alcoholism. [Diagnosis:] C.B.S. and alcoholism."

On February 16, 1972, a hearing was held on the petition before the Honorable Robert J. Dempsey. Respondent was represented by the Cook County public defender. His counsel stated to the court that respondent had a hearing problem which made consultation difficult and that their only communication had been by written notes.

A social worker testified that he had been in contact with John Gerich, respondent's brother, who was unable to testify because of his own ill health but had given background information concerning respondent. According to the social worker, John Gerich stated that he was neither willing nor able to care for respondent at his home. The social worker further testified that respondent had only a second-grade education, his "main problem" was old age and difficulty in communicating with others, he was able ...


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