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04/20/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. WILMA WILLIFORD

April 20, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
WILMA WILLIFORD, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Union County. No. 94-MH-49. Honorable D. D. Bigler, Judge, presiding.

The Honorable Justice Welch delivered the opinion of the court: Goldenhersh and Hopkins, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Welch

JUSTICE WELCH delivered the opinion of the court:

On April 14, 1994, the circuit court of Union County entered an order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to respondent, Wilma Williford, pursuant to section 2-107.1 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code ("Code"). (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West 1992).) Williford appeals from that order, arguing that the trial court erred in denying her discovery request with respect to the petition for involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, and that the State failed to present clear and convincing evidence of all the facts prerequisite to such an order. We reverse because we find that the trial court abused its discretion in denying respondent's prehearing discovery request.

On March 25, 1994, a petition was filed in the circuit court of Union County by Ralph Eisaman, M.D., respondent's attending psychiatrist, seeking an order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to respondent. The petition alleged, inter alia, that respondent lacked the capacity to make a reasoned decision about the medication, one of the facts required to be proved by section 2-107.1 of the Code.

On that same date, respondent, through the Legal Advocacy Service, filed an interrogatory propounded to petitioner pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 213 (134 Ill. 2d R. 213), consisting of one question:

"State everything you relied upon to make the allegation that the Respondent lacks the capacity to make a reasoned decision about the medication."

The interrogatory was served on the assistant State's Attorney for Union County. Also on that same date, respondent, through the Legal Advocacy Service, filed a motion to require petitioner to answer the interrogatory, alleging, inter alia, that petitioner's attorney had indicated his unwillingness to voluntarily answer the interrogatory.

The parties were ordered to submit written authority in support of their respective positions on the discovery request, and both parties complied. On April 11, 1994, the circuit court made a docket entry order which denied respondent's petition to require petitioner to answer the interrogatory. No explanation for the court's decision was provided.

The cause proceeded to a hearing on the petition for involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, the court found that the State had established by clear and convincing evidence the required facts, and an order was entered authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to respondent.

On appeal, respondent argues that the trial court erred in denying her discovery request because she had a statutory right to such discovery, or in the alternative, even in the absence of such a right to discovery, that the trial court abused its inherent discretion to allow discovery by denying her request. She further argues that she was prejudiced by the denial of her discovery request.

The State counters that there is no statutory right to discovery in proceedings for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. However, the State concedes that the trial court does have inherent discretion to allow and regulate discovery in such proceedings. The State argues, however, that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying respondent's discovery request because: Dr. Eisaman was not a party as required by Supreme Court Rule 213 and was not an expert witness as required by Supreme Court Rule 220 (134 Ill. 2d R. 220), allowing discovery might delay the proceedings beyond the 30-day statutory time limit, and respondent had access to her mental health records at the institution where she was a patient and she would be able to cross-examine Dr. Eisaman sufficiently using those records.

We elect not to address the issue whether respondent had a statutory right to discovery because we find that, even in the absence of such a right, the trial court had inherent discretion to allow and regulate discovery in this proceeding and it abused that discretion in this case by denying respondent's discovery request. We further find that respondent was prejudiced by the denial of her discovery request and was denied a fair hearing on the petition for involuntary administration of psychotropic medication as a result. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the trial court authorizing the administration of that medication.

We wish to make it clear that we do not hold hereby that the civil discovery rules and the civil practice law do not apply to proceedings for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication under the Code. We only assume, for purposes of our discussion herein, that they do not. As we stated, we find it unnecessary to decide that precise question because, even if those rules and statutes do not apply to this proceeding, ...


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