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In Re Crenshaw





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARCHIBALD T. LeCESNE, Judge, presiding.


Respondent, Edward Crenshaw, 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 December 14, 1976. On appeal, respondent contends (1) that he was not proved to be in need of mental treatment by clear and convincing evidence, (2) that his motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been granted and (3) that the trial judge erred by consulting a private source in order to interpret a doctor's diagnosis and by refusing to allow respondent's counsel to cross examine the doctor on that diagnosis.

In an emergency petition for hospitalization, respondent was alleged to be in need of mental treatment. The petition stated that on December 6, 1976, respondent was "riding up and down on a bus — no destination. Not talking. Not able to cooperate. Out of contact." The petition further stated witnesses to these acts were a policeman (star number 274) and Malcolm X Mental Health Center staff, and that a certificate of a physician was attached. That certificate, executed by a psychiatrist, stated that the respondent was personally examined on December 5, 1976; found to be "in need of mental treatment"; "likely to harm self"; and "unable to care for self." A second certificate was also attached in which Dr. Coshini, a psychiatrist, stated that the respondent was personally examined on December 13, 1976; found to be "in need of mental treatment" and in need of hospitalization because he is likely to harm himself. The second certificate also stated that respondent "has the feeling people are against him and want to hurt him; that is why he stayed on the bus and was not leaving the bus and got arrested. Pt. has history of mental problem, has difficulties to communicate and cannot care for himself at this time."

At the inception of the hearing on December 14, respondent's counsel made a motion for judgment on the pleadings on the basis that even if the facts alleged in the petition were proved, it was an insufficient ground for commitment. The court took the motion under advisement, and directed the petitioner to proceed with its evidence.

Mr. Schwartz, a clinical psychologist, testified that he examined the respondent the week before the hearing, and found him to be ambivalent and unable to speak. Mr. Schwartz related how the respondent, on attempting to rise from a chair, stopped or got stuck about half-way up and then very slowly completed straightening up before walking into Mr. Schwartz's office. Mr. Schwartz further testified that he offered respondent the opportunity to sign in to the hospital as a voluntary patient, but that respondent once more displayed extreme ambivalence and could not decide between signing in or not. Based on the respondent's ambivalence, including his slow physical motions, Mr. Schwartz concluded that respondent was catatonic and in need of hospitalization.

On cross-examination, Mr. Schwartz stated that respondent was schizophrenic, catatonic type. When defense counsel attempted to elicit other symptoms of catatonia, the State objected. In ruling on the objection, the court stated, "The objection is sustained and from the Record, I am sure you are fully informed. Glossary defines ambivalence as the co-existence of two opening drives, desires, feelings, or emotions toward the same person, object, or goal. These may be conscious on one side or the feelings may be unconscious. Example: love and hate toward the same person — and what the doctor — Mr. Schwartz — has described here is conclusive as to why he deems this person is catatonic, based on his observations of what he described as ambivalence of this subject." Mr. Schwartz then explained that it was the respondent's extreme ambivalence that caused him to be unable to respond to the questions put forward to him, and which caused the marked slowness in his locomotion.

Dr. Coshini, a psychiatrist, testified that he had examined respondent on two occasions. The first time, Mr. Schwartz brought him to the office. On this occasion, respondent was quite slow in his movement, remained mute, and could not decide whether or not to sign in. During the second examination, the respondent was able to say a few words and his movements were faster and more flexible, but respondent was again very ambivalent as to what he wanted to do. The respondent told Dr. Coshini that prior to his admission he had the feeling that people wanted to hurt him and that they wanted to get him; that he was extremely afraid and scared and didn't know what to do; and that, when he was on the bus, he was confused, didn't know where to go and was walking from one end of the bus to the other. The respondent further related that he had been in mental hospitals before; that he was taking medication and was doing pretty well, but in the past few months he had stopped taking medication and he had started becoming more fearful and paranoid that people wanted to hurt him.

Dr. Coshini stated that there was no doubt in his mind that Mr. Schwartz's observation was right. The respondent suffered from a mental illness known as schizophrenia, chronic differentiated type. It was Dr. Coshini's recommendation that the respondent be placed in a hospital for a few more weeks and then, after discharge, that he go to the outpatient department.

On cross-examination, Dr. Coshini testified that upon talking to respondent that day, the respondent showed some sign of improvement; that he gave appropriate answers to the doctor's questions; that he was oriented and knew where he was, and that he was not confused in the organic sense. However, it was Dr. Coshini's opinion that because of the respondent's catatonic feature, slowness, and not knowing what he wants to do, respondent would be unable to care for himself.

After the State rested, the court denied the previous motion that the petition was insufficient, and denied a motion for a directed finding based on the lack of clear and convincing evidence.

The respondent then took the stand and testified he did not think mental treatment would help him. He stated that he generally lived with his sister and that he would return there if he was discharged. In response to questions from the court about the bus episode, respondent said, "I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to get off the bus. There is nothing illegal about that. A lot of people can't make up their minds." The respondent further testified that he had been laid off his job and that he was receiving public assistance.

The trial judge found that respondent was in need of mental treatment and of hospitalization. Respondent was then committed to Tinley Park Mental Health Center and this appeal followed.


• 1 The Mental Health Code defines a person in need of mental treatment as one who is afflicted with a mental disorder as a result of which he is reasonably expected to intentionally or unintentionally physically injure himself or other persons, or is unable to care for himself so as to guard himself from physical injury or to provide for his own physical needs. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-11.) The State must show by clear and ...

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