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In Re Scruggs

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 23, 1986.

IN RE IDELLA SCRUGGS (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

IDELLA SCRUGGS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Martin F. Brodkin, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE HARTMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Respondent was adjudged subject to involuntary admission under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-100). She appeals contending that the primary evidence relied on by the circuit court was inadmissible hearsay.

On October 9, 1984, members of the staff of Jackson Park Hospital filed a petition accompanied by two certificates alleging that respondent was mentally ill and unable to provide for her basic physical needs so as to guard against serious harm. At a hearing on the petition, Alfred Schwarz, a clinical psychologist employed at Tinley Park Mental Health Center, testified that he had interviewed respondent twice, had reviewed the charts and records of her 15 previous hospitalizations, and had also interviewed respondent's family and members of the community. Diagnosing respondent as a paranoid schizophrenic with additional features of an affective disorder, he stated that she exhibited wide mood swings, believed everyone was lying to her, and that her daughter was the devil.

Schwarz further testified, over respondent's objections, that the manager of the public housing project where respondent had lived told him that she had opened her apartment door, in the nude, to admit a carpenter who had been sent by the manager to do some work. Schwarz also testified that the manager said that respondent had left her keys lying on the counter of the building's office, making them accessible to anyone passing by, and that her lease had been terminated as a result of these incidents. Schwarz then stated that he had personally observed that respondent had a black eye during her last hospitalization. He testified that a hospital employee told him that respondent reported having been beaten and raped. Schwarz stated that hospital records indicated that she had been admitted by her daughter and the police because she had become threatening and had not been taking her medication.

Schwarz concluded from his interviews with respondent, his review of her charts and records, and the various statements and information which he received that respondent placed herself into positions of danger due to a lack of insight and judgment and that she could not be relied upon to take the necessary antipsychotic medication since she denied suffering from any mental illness.

Respondent testified that she wished to be discharged from the hospital and would participate in outpatient treatment and take the prescribed medication.

Requesting that the court enter an order of involuntary admission, the State relied almost exclusively upon Schwarz' expert opinion.

After the closing arguments, the following exchange occurred between the court and Mr. Schwarz:

"THE COURT: If I heard you correctly, she opened the door and let people in the apartment in the nude, is that correct? That was the testimony?

MR. SCHWARZ: That's right.

THE COURT: That's an invitation to trouble, problems. There will be a finding that the respondent is a person subject to involuntary admission * * *."

Respondent now appeals that order of involuntary admission.

• 1 A person is subject to involuntary admission if she is mentally ill and, because of her illness, is unable to provide for her basic physical needs so as to guard herself from serious harm. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 91 1/2, par. 1-119(2).) In order to prevail on its petition for involuntary admission, the State must establish proof by clear and convincing evidence. In re Johnston (1983), 118 Ill. App.3d 214, 218, 454 N.E.2d 840.

In the case sub judice, respondent contends that the requisite finding that she was unable to provide for her basic physical needs so as to guard against serious harm was based primarily upon inadmissible hearsay and did not approach the level of clear and convincing evidence. Relying upon Wilson v. Clark (1981), 84 Ill.2d 186, 417 N.E.2d 1322, cert. denied (1981), 454 U.S. 836, 70 L.Ed.2d 117, 102 S.Ct. 140, and People v. Ward (1975), 61 Ill.2d 559, 338 N.E.2d 171, the State argues that Alfred Schwarz, as an expert ...


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