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10/30/96 MATTER VICKY L. ELLIS (THE PEOPLE STATE

October 30, 1996

IN THE MATTER OF VICKY L. ELLIS (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
VICKY L. ELLIS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. No. 96--MH--75. Honorable E. Michael O'Brien, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication December 11, 1996.

Present - Honorable William E. Holdridge, Presiding Justice, Honorable Michael P. Mccuskey, Justice, Honorable John F. Michela, Justice. Justice McCUSKEY delivered the opinion of the court. Holdridge, P.j., and Michela, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccuskey

The Honorable Justice McCUSKEY delivered the opinion of the court:

The respondent, Vicky L. Ellis, appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Peoria County finding her subject to involuntary admission to a mental health facility and authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication.

Following our careful review of the record, we find the State failed to prove that the respondent was examined within 24 hours of her admission pursuant to section 3--610 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3--610 (West 1994)). As a result, we reverse.

FACTS

At 3 p.m. on March 12, 1996, an emergency room doctor at Illinois Valley Hospital certified that the respondent was mentally ill and could reasonably be expected to inflict harm upon herself. The doctor's certificate said the respondent tried to kill herself by cutting her right wrist and index finger. Based on this certificate, the respondent was admitted to the Zeller Mental Health Center (Zeller) the following day.

At 2:36 p.m. on March 13, 1996, a petition for involuntary admission was filed in the office of the circuit clerk of Peoria County. The petition included a psychologist's certificate that he gave the respondent a copy of the petition at "1100", within 12 hours of her admission to Zeller. Because the petition was filed at 2:36 p.m., we conclude that the a copy of the petition was given to the respondent at 11 a.m.

Dr. Jayalakshmi Attaluri examined the respondent at noon on March 14, 1996, and certified that the respondent was mentally ill and in need of involuntary admission to a mental health facility.

ANALYSIS

Section 3--610 of the Code provides that if a person admitted to a mental health facility by emergency certification is not examined by a psychiatrist within 24 hours of admission, that person "shall be released forthwith. " (Emphasis added.) 405 ILCS 5/3--610 (West 1994). The Code's procedural safeguards are not mere technicalities; they are essential tools to protect the liberty interests of persons adjudged to be mentally ill. In re Luttrell, 261 Ill. App. 3d 221, 230, 633 N.E.2d 74, 81, 198 Ill. Dec. 612 (1994). These safeguards must be strictly construed in favor of the respondent. In re La Touche, 247 Ill. App. 3d 615, 618, 617 N.E.2d 844, 846, 187 Ill. Dec. 387 (1993).

It is well-settled law that the 24-hour examination rule is a bright line rule and failure to conduct an examination within 24 hours results in the release of the respondent. See In re Rovelstad, 281 Ill. App. 3d 956, 965, 667 N.E.2d 720, 725, 217 Ill. Dec. 631 (1996); In re Valentine, 201 Ill. App. 3d 10, 13-14, 558 N.E.2d 807, 809-10, 146 Ill. Dec. 844 (1990); see also La Touche, 247 Ill. App. 3d 615, 620, 617 N.E.2d 844, 847, 187 Ill. Dec. 387 (holding that the 24-hour deadline for filing a petition for commitment is a bright line rule). The burden is upon the State to affirmatively demonstrate that it has complied with the mandates of the Code. Rovelstad, 281 Ill. App. 3d at 965, 667 N.E.2d at 725.

In the case at hand, the record shows that Dr. Attaluri's examination of the respondent did not occur within 24 hours of the respondent's admission to Zeller. The psychologist certified that the respondent was given a copy of the petition for involuntary commitment at 11 a.m. on March 13, within 12 hours of the respondent's admission. The record also reflects that the doctor's examination did not occur until noon on March 14. Because the doctor's examination was at least one hour too late, the State has failed to prove it ...


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