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06/12/96 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. MICHAEL SHELTON

June 12, 1996

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MICHAEL SHELTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 87 CR 2578. Honorable Edward M. Fiala, Jr., Judge Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Cerda delivered the opinion of the court: Tully, P.j., and Rizzi, J., Concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

The Honorable Justice CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

After being found not guilty of attempted murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 9-1)(West 1992)) and aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4 (West 1992)) by reason of insanity, defendant, Michael Shelton, was remanded to the custody of the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (DMHDD). He is presently an inpatient at the Elgin Mental Health Center. In November 1994, he filed a pro se petition for discharge or conditional release under section 5-2-4(e) of the Uniform Code of Corrections. 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(e)(West 1992). This appeal arises from the circuit court's decision to strike defendant's petition as insufficient.

On appeal, defendant asserts that the trial court erred in striking his pro se petition for discharge or conditional release because (1) the plain language of section 5-2-4(e) does not require a more specific petition; (2) the pleading requirements for mental health facility directors under section 5-2-4(d) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(d) (West 1992)) were improperly applied to mental health patients under section 5-2-4(e); (3) the pleading requirements imposed were an unfair burden on a mental health patient; (4) defendant was denied a hearing as required under section 5-2-4(e); (5) defendant did not receive notice, an opportunity to present his petition at the proceeding, or an independent psychiatric examination as required by section 5-2-4(f) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(f)(West 1992)); and (6) defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.

The issue on appeal is whether defendant's petition was sufficient under section 5-2-4(e). In his petition, defendant stated that (1) he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the custody of DMHDD; (2) he is presently confined at Elgin Mental Health Center; (3) he is not subject to involuntary admission and is no longer in need of mental health services on an inpatient basis; (4) he is not subject to involuntary admission and is no longer in need of mental health services on either an inpatient or outpatient basis; (5) he is indigent; and (6) he has not filed a petition under section 5-2-4 within the past 60 days. Defendant requested that the court appoint counsel to represent him, order an independent psychiatric examination pursuant to section 5-2-4(f), and set the motion for a hearing within 30 days.

After defendant filed his section 5-2-4(e) petition, the State's Attorney's Office filed a motion to strike the petition for being insufficient under section 2-615 of the Civil Practice Law. 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992). In its motion, the State urged the trial court to require defendant to comply with the provisions of section 5-2-4(d), which applies to facility directors who recommend that a defendant be either discharged or conditionally released because he or she is no longer subject to involuntary admission or in need of mental health services.

After the court received defendant's pro se petition, it appointed an assistant public defender to represent him, but defendant was not notified of the court proceeding. With no objection from defendant's attorney, the trial court struck the petition for insufficiency. Thus, no hearing or psychiatric exam was ordered.

Section 5-2-4(e), which applies to insanity acquittees, states:

"A defendant admitted pursuant to this Section, or any person on his behalf, may file a petition for transfer to a non-secure setting within the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities or discharge or conditional release under the standards of this Section in the court which rendered the verdict. Upon receipt of a petition for transfer to a non-secure setting or discharge or conditional release, the court shall set a hearing to be held within 30 days. Thereafter, no new petition may be filed for 60 days without leave of the court." 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(e) (West 1992) (emphasis added).

In contrast, section 5-2-4(d), which applies to facility directors, provides in part:

"When the facility director determines that:

(1) the defendant is no longer subject to involuntary admission or in need of mental health services on an inpatient basis; and

(2) the defendant may be conditionally released because he or she is still in need of mental health services or that the defendant may be discharged as not in need of any mental health services; or

(3) the defendant no longer requires placement in a secure setting; the facility director shall give written notice to the Court, State's Attorney and defense attorney. Such notice shall set forth in detail the basis for the recommendation of the facility director, and specify clearly the recommendations, if any, of the facility director, concerning conditional release. " 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(d) (West 1992) (emphasis added).

Defendant asserts that the trial court imposed a pleading requirement that is inconsistent with the plain language of section 5-2-4(e) and that applying section 5-2-4(d)'s requirements to section 5-2-4(e) petitions would place an unfair burden on a mental health patient. He maintains that an insanity acquittee is not capable of supplying detailed psychiatric conclusions because he is not a psychiatrist or psychologist and the State is in control of those details. Further, defendant insists that an insanity acquittee who is confined to a mental health facility is not similarly situated as the facility director, who is a mental health professional with other mental health professionals to assist in preparing a recommendation.

Defendant cites the Report, Governor's Commission for Revision of the Mental Health Code of Illinois (1977) (Report), which is regularly relied on by Illinois courts as a primary source for legislative history of mental health legislation. Estate of Johnson v. Condell Memorial Hosp., 119 Ill. 2d 496, 505-06, 520 N.E.2d 37, 117 Ill. Dec. 47 ...


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