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In Re Ciancanelli

FEBRUARY 28, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LAWRENCE I. GENESEN, Judge, presiding.


Respondent appeals from an order committing her to the custody of the Department of Mental Health as a person in need of mental treatment pursuant to the Mental Health Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 91 1/2.) She contends: (1) that she was deprived of her privilege against self-incrimination when she was required to testify for the State, and (2) that she was deprived of her due process rights when the court refused to instruct the jury to apply a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Victor Ciancanelli, respondent's son, filed a verified petition for the hospitalization of respondent alleging that on October 8, 1973, she had threatened people. Petitioner's sworn statement filed with the petition alleged that respondent had refused to see a doctor and that she "says [her] sons are being held prisoner [and being] tortured, says God sends pains which tell her what to do, threatens people, says they are enemy plants [and] she is not afraid to die [and] will fight them to the end, was hospitalized 1963-1965 in a psychiatric hospital [and] now refuses to take medicine." Pursuant to a court order, respondent was taken into custody. Two doctors examined her and both filed certificates indicating that respondent needed mental treatment.

The matter proceeded to trial before a six-man jury as prescribed in section 9-2 of the Mental Health Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 91 1/2, par. 9-2) where the following pertinent evidence was adduced.

For the State:

Hattie Ciancanelli

She is respondent in the instant proceeding and testified over objection by her counsel. On her request she was permitted to read a statement to the jury. The statement is incoherent and difficult to understand. She stated that she is being held illegally because the petition did not name the person she was accused of threatening; she did not threaten anyone; and her son did not see her on October 8, 1973. She has seen her son only twice in the last year (on July 4, and on the day she was taken into custody). She has met him occasionally at the Northwestern Station at which time the F.B.I. is with him. The police "snatched" her from her apartment because the F.B.I is protecting her husband who "snitched" on four people while he was in prison and those people died. The F.B.I. has harassed her and her sons since 1957; the F.B.I. controls her sons' minds and caused the petition against her to be filed; F.B.I. agents live with her sons and tricked them into moving into the suburbs. Her medical records have been altered; her doctors are "framing" her; and her husband and son have the same social security numbers.

Upon examination by the assistant States' attorney, she complained of being tortured since 1957, but admitted that she had not seen an F.B.I. agent in 10 years. She blamed the F.B.I. for certain incidents which occurred at the Hospital since she was taken into custody, but she could substantiate F.B.I. harassment only by saying that people talked about her behind her back.

Barbara Graves

She is a mental health specialist at Tinley Park Mental Health Center. She interviewed respondent, who is in good physical condition, on several occasions at the Center during which time respondent was "cooperative to the point of being pleasant." During these interviews respondent complained that the F.B.I. was responsible for the commitment petition and had put a camera in her apartment. The witness observed respondent accuse another patient who had been bothering her of being planted there by the F.B.I. but the witness did not observe respondent threaten anyone. Particularly in view of the fact that respondent had not paid her rent, the witness was of the opinion that respondent's fixation with a F.B.I. conspiracy against her would make it difficult for her to cope with life outside a mental institution and expected respondent to have difficulty keeping up her apartment. She admitted, however, that while at the hospital, respondent had taken care of herself.

Mehdi Golchini

He is a licensed physician who has been practicing psychiatry for 10 years. Although he was not involved in treating respondent, he interviewed her for the purpose of reporting to the court. In his opinion, respondent is a schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type who is potentially dangerous to herself and others. He based his opinion upon the fact that respondent is delusional; that she complained of being tortured, but he could observe no evidence of physical torture; and that she viewed the world as an extremely hostile place which would tend to make her angry. He admitted that defendant had taken care of herself fairly well and that he knew of no evidence of past acts of violence.

Respondent on her own ...

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