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In Re Johnston

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 30, 1983.

IN RE EDWARD JOHNSTON — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

EDWARD JOHNSTON, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Knox County; the Hon. Harry C. Bulkeley, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE ALLOY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

In the cause before us, Edward Johnston was alleged to be a person subject to involuntary admission under the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-400). In a bench trial, the respondent was found subject to admission and was committed to the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities for a period of 60 days. From this involuntary admission, the respondent appeals. The basic issue raised in this case is whether the trial court erred in finding the respondent was subject to involuntary admission.

On September 16, 1982, respondent Edward Johnston sought admission to the Galesburg Mental Health Center (Mental Health Center) as a voluntary patient pursuant to section 3-400 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-400). On January 18, 1983, respondent requested that he be discharged from the Mental Health Center pursuant to section 3-403 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code. After six days, on January 24, 1983, the respondent attempted to leave the institution believing he had the right to do so. Subsequently, the Mental Health Center sent workers to return respondent to the Mental Health Center. The respondent was returned to the Center with threats and physical force.

After the respondent was returned to the Mental Health Center, a petition for involuntary admission was filed by Deborah Dalton asserting that the respondent was mentally ill and, because of his illness, could reasonably be expected to injure himself or others or is unable to provide for his basic needs. The petition was accompanied by certificates of an unknown psychologist and Dr. Ma Paz Salamat Cristobal stating that the respondent was subject to involuntary admission. These certificates are dated January 25, 1983, the morning after the recapture incident.

At a hearing on February 4, 1983, at the Galesburg Mental Health Center before the judge, the respondent initially challenged the jurisdiction of the court on due process grounds but such challenge was overruled. The State then presented Dr. Cristobal, who testified that she had been respondent's attending psychiatrist since his admission and that she had seen the respondent two or three times a week.

Dr. Cristobal then testified to the symptoms of the illness she had observed. She stated that she witnessed the tendency of the respondent to get upset and frustrated easily. The doctor also testified to a conversation that occurred on January 25, 1983, the morning after Johnson's unauthorized absence and forced readmittance, at which time the doctor stated that she asked respondent where he was going and the respondent stated he was going to a friend's home, but he did not know the address. Dr. Cristobal testified that the respondent was very angry concerning the forced readmission and the force that was used by the Mental Health Center staff during the incident.

Dr. Cristobal, in discussing organic disabilities, stated that she noted that respondent was suffering from grand mal and petit mal seizures (the possible results of a head trauma at an early age). To control these seizures, the respondent is required to take anticonvulsive medication for the seizures. Based on Dr. Cristobal's observations, she diagnosed the respondent as having an organic personality syndrome type of mental illness. In response to questions concerning the likelihood that the respondent would inflict serious harm upon himself or another in the near future, the doctor stated that the respondent would be "quite likely to hurt others if he doesn't control himself." Dr. Cristobal also testified that respondent was unable to provide for his basic needs because he may at some time in the future refuse to take his seizure medication. The trial court, in denying a motion for a directed finding, stated that the evidence as presented, and taken in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, had presented a prima facie case, i.e., the State had shown that regardless of respondent's legal right not to take medication, the fact was that if he did not take the medication, he would suffer seizures. The court found that the evidence that respondent cannot take care of himself, coupled with evidence of the diagnosis of organic personality syndrome and the refusal to take necessary medication to control seizures, met the State's burden.

The trial court noted that Dr. Cristobal did testify that respondent lacked insight into the need for his medication and that the medication was needed to control his seizures. The court interpreted the doctor's comment on self-care to mean only that respondent was able to feed and clothe himself, and take care of his personal hygiene, but not to meet the needs of taking the four different medicines for his seizures.

When the respondent took the stand he testified that he suffered seizures which were with him since birth. Respondent stated that he had not failed to take his medication in the recent past and he had no intention of refusing medication in the future. On cross-examination, the respondent stated that he "blacks out" from seizures but denied injurying anyone by having a seizure.

The trial court, after the close of the evidence observed to respondent that the main problem is getting the seizures under control. The court noted that the respondent indicated that he would take his medicine, but also admitted that he had indicated to the doctor a few days previously that he was not going to take his medicine, or did not think he needed to.

The court stated specifically that "It is not the law that you are required — we are not talking about drugs to control your mind; we are talking about drugs that help to control your seizures." The court informed Johnston that it did not believe he was able to understand the necessity of medication and the appropriate dosages.

The court stated that, accordingly, it would find that the respondent was subject to involuntary admission and the court would sign the order that he be hospitalized. The court informed the respondent that the doctor would work with him and try to get him to take the right medicine in the right amounts and at the right times.

On appeal in this case, the appellant contends that the trial court erred in finding, by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent was unable to provide for his basic needs when it based its findings on speculation that the respondent may refuse to take his prescribed medication and was uncertain of future living arrangements. The respondent does not contend he was mentally ill at the time of the hearing. The People properly contend that the evidence introduced at the hearing established, by clear and convincing evidence, that respondent was subject to involuntary admission.

• 1, 2 The parties agree that an individual must be shown to be subject to involuntary admission by clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is stated to be something less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. (In re Stephenson (1977), 67 Ill.2d 544, 367 N.E.2d 1273.) In order to be subject to involuntary admission it need not be shown that the respondent is a definite danger to himself or society. (In re Stephenson; In re Gregorovich (1980), 89 Ill. App.3d 528, 411 N.E.2d 981.) The People assert that the courts> accordingly are not required to wait until someone is ...


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