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People v. Sanchez

OPINION FILED AUGUST 7, 1984.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

ELOY SANCHEZ, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Samuel S. Berger, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 5, 1984.

Respondent Eloy Sanchez was found not guilty by reason of insanity of homicide. Thereafter, a hearing was held to determine if Sanchez was in need of mental health treatment. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4.) He appeals from the trial court's order finding him in need of mental health services on an inpatient basis.

Respondent shot and killed his wife and wounded his son and mother-in-law on August 21, 1981. Respondent was examined by three psychiatrists who concluded that at the time of the offense, respondent was suffering from a paranoid and persecutory delusion and that he was legally insane. The State presented no evidence in rebuttal. The trial court found respondent not guilty by reason of insanity.

As a result of this finding, a hearing was conducted to determine if respondent should be committed to a mental institution for treatment. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4.) At the outset of the hearing, respondent contested the constitutionality of the statute under which the hearing was being held. The parties filed memoranda addressing the issue and the court found the statute to be constitutional. Dr. Joseph Mehr, chief psychologist at the Elgin Mental Health Center, testified at this hearing on December 21, 1982. Dr. Mehr had interviewed respondent the day prior to the hearing and on September 3, 1982. Mehr testified that in his opinion respondent was not subject to involuntary admission under section 5-2-4(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4(a)(1)(A), but that he was in need of inpatient services (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4(a)(1)(B)). Mehr believed that respondent's need of inpatient care stemmed from the danger that respondent could resort to violent behavior when placed in a stressful interpersonal situation, such as contact with his family.

On cross-examination, Dr. Mehr conceded that respondent's condition had been down-graded from schizophrenia to schizoid personality disorder to paranoid personality disorder and that respondent exhibited no evidence of hallucinations or disorganization of personality. Respondent had also exhibited no agitative or aggressive behavior.

Over respondent's objection, the State was permitted to reopen its case after Dr. Mehr's testimony and to present the testimony of Dr. Eduardo Machado, who examined respondent on December 17, 1982. Basically, Dr. Machado concluded that respondent suffered from schizophrenia and was in need of inpatient hospitalization. On cross-examination, Dr. Machado conceded that respondent had not exhibited violent behavior for quite some time.

At the close of the hearing, counsel for respondent urged that the experts' "equivocal" testimony failed to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence and urged conditional release under whatever conditions the court felt were appropriate. The court found that respondent was in need of inpatient mental health services. Respondent was committed for an indefinite period of time not to exceed 40 years. Respondent appeals.

Respondent first contends that, for several reasons, the standard for involuntary admission set forth in section 5-2-4(a)(2)(B) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4(a)(1)(B)) is unconstitutionally vague and therefore violative of due process.

Initially, respondent contends that subsection (B) is tautological or circular. In support of this contention, respondent cites Goldy v. Beal (M.D. Pa. 1976), 429 F. Supp. 640. Goldy involved a Pennsylvania statute which allowed for involuntary and indefinite commitment of a person "in need of care and treatment" because of a mental disability. "Mental disability," in turn, was defined as a condition "[making] it necessary or advisable for him to be under care." Because of the circuitous nature of the statute, there was nothing to prevent its arbitrary enforcement. Accordingly, the court in Goldy struck the statute down as violative of due process.

• 1 Respondent attempts to draw a parallel between the statute in the instant case and that confronted in Goldy. A cursory reading of the statute in the instant case, however, reveals that it is not circular. The statute states:

"`In need of mental health services on an inpatient basis' means: a defendant who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity who is not subject to involuntary admission but who is reasonably expected to inflict physical harm upon himself or another and who would benefit from inpatient care or is in need of inpatient care." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-4(a)(1)(B).)

The highlighted phrase prevents this provision from being circular. Respondent must be found to be "reasonably expected to inflict physical harm upon himself or another" before a determination is made as to whether he would benefit from or is in need of inpatient care. Thus, contrary to respondent's assertion, the statute does not circuitously define "in need of mental health services on an inpatient basis" as a need for inpatient care.

Respondent's second due process attack concerns the absence from subsection (B) of the phrase "mental illness." By omitting the mental illness requirement, respondent contends that the statute dispenses with any requirement that there be a causal connection between respondent's potential dangerousness and the mental illness suffered at the time of the offense. Respondent concludes that because of the lack of a finding of causality between an ...


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