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In Re Byrd

OPINION FILED JANUARY 16, 1979.

IN RE LARRY BYRD. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

LARRY BYRD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. CORNELIUS J. COLLINS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The circuit court of Cook County found 19-year-old Larry Byrd in need of mental treatment and committed him involuntarily to a State mental health hospital.

The sole issue on review is whether the trial court properly denied Byrd's petition for voluntary commitment pursuant to section 3-5 of the Mental Health Code of 1967. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-5.

Larry Byrd was arrested and incarcerated for discharging a firearm. While incarcerated, he attempted to hang himself with his shirt. On November 10, 1977, Byrd was transferred to the Chicago Read Mental Health Center pursuant to emergency admission procedures under article VII of the Mental Health Code of 1967. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 7-1 et seq.

A petition for hospitalization, filed in the circuit court on November 14, 1977, asserted that Byrd was in need of mental treatment and likely to harm himself or others if not immediately hospitalized. Two doctors filed certificates in support of the petition. Dr. R. Carreria, a psychiatrist who examined Byrd on November 9, 1977, found him to have an explosive personality with antisocial traits, likely to harm himself or others, and in need of mental treatment. A day later Byrd was examined by another psychiatrist, Dr. Lee, who found him suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations, in need of mental treatment, and likely to harm himself or others.

A hearing on the petition was held on November 17, 1977. Two days prior to this hearing, Byrd filed an application for voluntary admission which was witnessed by Dr. Lee. Before the hearing commenced, the State objected to Byrd's petition for voluntary admission and the trial court reserved its ruling.

Thomas Cotton, a rehabilitation counselor for the Department of Mental Health who had interviewed Byrd, testified as a State witness that Byrd told him that he had been taking drugs and drinking the day he was arrested for firing a gun into the air, and that he had been in a psychiatric hospital at the age of 10. Cotton also testified that Byrd told him he wanted to enter the hospital as a voluntary patient, and in Cotton's opinion, Byrd could benefit from hospitalization.

Over objection by the public defender, the State was allowed to call Byrd as a witness pursuant to section 60 of the Civil Practice Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110, par. 60.) Byrd stated that within the previous week he tried to strangle and choke himself. When asked the reason, he responded he really did not know how to answer that question. When asked if he would try to kill himself again if not hospitalized, he responded that he did not know.

The State called the only physician to testify at the hearing, Dr. Newena Argiroff, a psychiatrist. She had conversed with Byrd the previous day and the morning of the hearing. Byrd told her he had been hospitalized at the age of 7 for shooting his father. The reason he gave, Argiroff said, was that his father was attacking his mother and he could not tolerate his father's brutality. According to Argiroff, Byrd told her he had taken all kinds of drugs including marijuana, L.S.D., and cocaine, and drank heavily at times. Argiroff testified that while talking, Byrd was smiling and was almost euphoric in an exhibitionistic way, as if he wanted to show what he could do and create a certain impression. She stated that Byrd's contact and orientation were good, but his judgment and insight were very poor. He was evasive and guarded and gave answers with some manipulative behavior. Argiroff diagnosed Byrd as suffering from a personality disorder with explosive and antisocial trends and drug abuse. As a result of this disorder, she concluded that Byrd could more likely than not harm himself or others and was in need of hospitalization.

At the close of Dr. Argiroff's direct examination, the defense renewed its motion for voluntary commitment. The trial court stated the following:

"Well, from the evidence I've heard, signing the voluntary is one thing. This young man came here from California. There is no evidence here of any ability to work or disability not to work or whatever you want to classify it as. He should be classified a nonresident, sent back to California. I don't know why we should take the responsibility for this young man."

The trial court asked the defense whether they had contacted anyone in California. The defense informed the court that the only family Byrd had was a sister who had lived in California and was now in the army and living in Germany. Without stating a reason, the court denied the motion for voluntary admission.

Byrd testified in his own behalf that he was 19 years old, drove a tractor-trailer for a moving company located in Texas before coming to Chicago; that he had no permanent home; that he benefited somewhat from his present hospital treatment; and that the medication given him did help. Byrd stated that he wanted to stay in the hospital a little longer to get himself together, and that he did sign voluntary admission papers. The court asked Byrd if he wanted to go back to California, to which he responded that he would rather get himself back together and then return to California.

Upon cross-examination by the State, Byrd stated that by attempting to hang himself, he was not trying to get out of jail and into the hospital, but that he wanted to kill himself and still had the intention of doing so. He responded negatively when asked ...


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