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In Re Garcia





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MARTIN F. BRODKIN, Judge, presiding.


Respondent, Hilario Garcia, was found to be in need of mental treatment (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-11) after a hearing in the circuit court of Cook County on February 4, 1977. The issues presented for review are whether the appeal should be dismissed as moot because respondent was given an absolute discharge; whether respondent was proved to be the person alleged to be in need of mental treatment; and whether respondent was proved to be in need of mental treatment by clear and convincing evidence.

At the hearing, Dorothy Wynne, a social worker at the Tinley Park Hospital, testified that respondent was easily frustrated and frequently became angry. He told her he made atom bombs for the government after having enlisted in the service at 12 1/2 years of age. He also said he is a famous screen playwright and wrote plays for famous actors.

Respondent's mother testified he had grabbed her around the neck and tried to choke her, and she had had to call the police. He also had jumped on her bed like a little boy, had talked to nonexistent persons and had burned papers in a frying pan. She stated he had been in the Tinley Park Hospital on two prior occasions and had been in the State hospital in Michigan at one time. She testified on cross-examination that she, too, had been in mental institutions in Michigan and Illinois over 12 years before.

Dr. Rolchini, a psychiatrist, testified respondent told him he was a screen writer who had written the script for the movie "Jaws" and had been a designer of great weaponry. During the interview respondent was extremely hostile and said that he had to get out of the hospital or something would happen and that he would get out one way or another. Dr. Golchini concluded respondent had a very low tolerance for frustration and suffered from delusions of grandeur, thought disorders and schizophrenia. He believed it was more than likely that respondent would try to harm himself of others because he became extremely agitated and irritable when his demands were not met.

Respondent testified that his reference to making atom bombs for the government was just a joke, and that the papers he put into the pan and burned were parts of a script he was working on; he was afraid someone might read it if he merely put it into the trash. He stated he was told to burn papers in Fort Knox when he was in the service. He was in the service just four months but denied having received a psychiatric discharge.

He also denied choking his mother and explained he had only massaged her back. He stated she frequently screamed at him, talked in tongues, and was a religious fanatic. He explained she had threatened to put him in the hospital for no reason because she did not want him around.

Respondent filed a timely notice of appeal on February 4, 1977, and thereafter on February 24, 1977, he was given an absolute discharge.


The State contends the appeal is moot and relies on People ex rel. Craine v. Boyd (5th Dist. 1976), 41 Ill. App.3d 538, 353 N.E.2d 696. In that case the court invoked the case-by-case approach to the collateral consequences exception to the mootness doctrine enunciated in In re Sciara (1st Dist. 1974), 21 Ill. App.3d 889, 316 N.E.2d 153. The court in Boyd held that where respondent had been hospitalized on previous occasions the consequences of being given an absolute discharge are actually favorable to respondent because it indicates he is no longer afficted and is ready to take his place in society. Therefore, the State argues that no negative consequences flow from allowing the lower court order to stand in this case because respondent had been previously hospitalized on several occasions.

Nevertheless, to hold as the State suggests would tend to frustrate the legislative intention to grant review in mental health cases. The statute expressly provides:

"Appeals from the final orders or judgments of the circuit court made and entered in proceedings under the Act may be taken by any person, including the person asserted to be mentally retarded, or in need of mental treatment, who considers himself aggrieved, in the same manner as in other civil cases." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 2-3.)

Also see In re Carter (1975), 25 N.C. App. 442, 213 S.E.2d 409, 410, and Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6.

Furthermore, the well-reasoned dissent in Boyd pointed out that Sciara had relied on In re Ballay (D.C. Cir. 1973), 482 F.2d 648, wherein the court stated that a case is moot only if there is no possibility ...

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