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In Re Williams

OPINION FILED MAY 14, 1985.

IN RE RICHARD WILLIAMS (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

RICHARD WILLIAMS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon. Roger A. Benson, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE HEIPLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On July 17, 1984, the circuit court of Kankakee County entered an order finding the appellant, Richard Williams, to be a person subject to involuntary admission and hospitalization in the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the court erred in denying his request for an independent psychiatric examination and a change of venue.

In order to find a person subject to involuntary admission, it must be established by clear and convincing evidence that the person is a definite danger to himself or society. (In re Stephenson (1977), 67 Ill.2d 544.) Courts are not required to wait until someone is actually harmed before ordering hospitalization. The order will be affirmed where there is a reasonable expectation that the respondent will engage in dangerous conduct. In re Haber (1979), 78 Ill. App.3d 1120; In re Powell (1980), 85 Ill. App.3d 877.

Gerald Lee, a clinical psychologist, diagnosed the appellant as a paranoid schizophrenic. On direct examination, Mr. Lee stated that in his opinion the appellant was likely to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or others and was not a proper candidate for less restrictive placement. Mr. Lee's opinion was based upon an examination of the appellant and on reports of appellant's behavior in April and May of 1984 while appellant was a patient at Manteno Mental Health Center. Appellant had accused the staff at Manteno of putting chemicals in his blood and then withdrawing blood while appellant was asleep. The appellant also threatened the staff and accused them of spying on him and taking his money.

Thomas Johnson, the psychologist who signed the petition for involuntary admission, was called by appellant as an adverse witness. Mr. Johnson testified as to appellant's recent history of threats, attacks on other patients, and similar acts of aggression.

Finally, Dr. Noguera, the medical director of Manteno Mental Health Center, gave additional testimony about appellant's prior history. In 1971, appellant had been found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of his wife and was sent to the Menard maximum security mental health facility in 1979 on a charge of aggravated battery.

• 1 The respondent has an extensive history of violent conduct. Expert witnesses have testified that this conduct persists and is likely to occur in the future if the respondent is not hospitalized and treated. We find this evidence to be sufficient to support the court's order committing the appellant to the Department of Mental Health.

• 2 Next, the appellant argues that he was denied his statutory and constitutional rights when the court denied his request for an independent examination to aid in his defense of the involuntary commitment proceedings. An individual alleged to be subject to involuntary hospitalization is guaranteed all rights, benefits and privileges provided by law. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 91 1/2, par. 2-100.

A respondent in a civil commitment proceeding does not have a constitutional right to an independent psychiatric examination at the State's expense. Although the United States Supreme Court has recently recognized such a right in criminal proceedings where a defendant's sanity is at issue (Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), 470 U.S. ___, 84 L.Ed.2d 53, 105 S.Ct. 1087), the right has not been extended to civil cases.

In Illinois, a person alleged to be subject to involuntary admission has a statutory right to an examination by an independent psychiatrist:

"Sec. 3-804. The respondent is entitled to secure an independent examination by a physician, qualified examiner, clinical psychologist or other expert of his choice. If the respondent is unable to obtain an examination, he may request that the court order an examination to be made by an impartial medical expert pursuant to Supreme Court Rules or by a qualified examiner, clinical psychologist or other expert. Determination of the compensation of the physician, qualified examiner, clinical psychologist or other expert and its payment shall be governed by Supreme Court Rule." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-804.)

Prior to its enactment in 1978, the proposed section 3-804 was analyzed by the Governor's Commission for Revision of the Mental Health Code. The Commission concluded that "[t]he rights to counsel and to be heard in a civil commitment proceeding will often fail to adequately protect the respondent unless he is able to secure the advice or testimony of his own examiner. Otherwise, the respondent and his lawyer will have difficulty in rebutting or exposing errors and other deficiencies in the testimony of the expert state witnesses." Report, Governor's Commission for Revision of the Mental Health Code of Illinois 60 (1976).

The evidence marshalled against a respondent by the State's experts may often seem overwhelming and irrefutable to those who have no training in medicine or psychology. The Commission's report clearly states that the purpose of section 3-804 is to aid the respondent and his attorney in the presentation of a defense. Where the respondent's liberty is at stake, the assistance of an independent expert is essential to a fair and impartial hearing.

In the present case, the trial judge denied the appellant's request for an independent examination primarily because the Illinois legislature failed to allocate funds to pay for a State appointed psychiatrist. The judge also held that the examination was not ...


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