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In re Matter of Moore

December 23, 1998


Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County No. 97MH8

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman


Honorable Scott B. Diamond, Judge Presiding.

Respondent Terry Moore appeals an order of the circuit court of Macon County, finding him to be a person subject to involuntary admission under section 3-601 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-601 (West 1996)). He argues that (1) he was not examined by a psychiatrist within 24 hours of admission, as required by section 3-610 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-610 (West 1996)), and (2) the evidence was insufficient. We affirm.

On June 11, 1997, a petition was filed alleging that Moore was a person subject to involuntary admission. The petition stated that on the morning of June 10, 1997, Moore awakened his sister-in-law, Gail Durbin, and told her to leave the house because he had turned on the gas and was going to kill himself. The petition also stated that there was a strong odor of gas in the house. Moore was admitted to St. Mary's Hospital (St. Mary's). He was examined and certified by a physician on June 10, 1997, at 9:41 a.m. and by a psychiatrist on June 11, 1997, at 9 a.m. The certificates expressed the opinion that Moore was mentally ill and reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future. These opinions were based upon Moore's reported suicide attempt, alcohol intoxication, and a history of suicide threats. The certificates were filed with the petition. On motion of Moore's court-appointed counsel, Moore was examined by an independent psychiatrist.

A comprehensive examination and social investigation report was filed. It indicated that Moore was being given certain medications, including anti-depressants. The social investigation completed by a licensed clinical social worker found that Moore was a chronic substance abuser who had threatened suicide three times in the previous month. He had moved to Illinois from Florida in late 1996, but had been unable to maintain employment due to his alcoholism. This was his third admission to St. Mary's within the last 50 days. He did not follow through on recommendations made upon his last two discharges. The report suggested both inpatient and outpatient treatment for depression and alcoholism at the Geoffrey M. Geoghegan Recovery Center (Geoghegan), the substance- abuse arm of the Decatur Mental Health Center. The report rejected outpatient treatment as not restrictive enough and hospitalization in a state facility as too restrictive.

At the June 19, 1997, hearing on the State's petition, Officer Gene Pistorius of the Decatur police department testified that he responded at 7:23 a.m. on June 10, 1997, to a call from Durbin stating that Moore had turned on the gas and was threatening to kill himself. Pistorius stated that since May 1997, officers had been called to that residence 10 times, 5 times for domestic calls and 5 times to check on a possible attempted suicide.

When Pistorius arrived at the house, he found glass from the front porch door lying on the walkway. Moore indicated his brother, Les, had broken out the glass and had been arrested. Moore was intoxicated and, when Pistorius entered the house, there was a "real strong odor" of natural gas. Although Moore stated the pilot light on the stove had gone out, Pistorius felt the odor was too strong to have been caused by an extinguished pilot light. He was concerned enough to have the fire department check to see that the gas was turned off and try to get some ventilation in the house. Pistorius believed Moore to be a danger to himself or others and, for that reason, he took Moore into custody and called for an ambulance to transport him to St. Mary's.

On cross-examination, Pistorius stated that Moore told him he had just arrived at the residence. If that was true, Pistorius agreed that Moore could not have been involved in any gas leak because there was too much gas at that point.

Choudary Kavuri, psychiatrist at St. Mary's, testified that he first met Moore on June 1, 1997, during a prior admission to the emergency room. That incident also involved an alleged suicide attempt by Moore while intoxicated. Moore told Kavuri that he had lost his job in Florida and his relationship with his wife or girlfriend had ended. Moore stated that after he was discharged on May 25, 1997, from a previous hospitalization, he was supposed to go to Geoghegan for treatment but did not do so. Kavuri's diagnosis for Moore was severe depression and alcohol dependency. The depression was likely caused by Moore's personal problems. Sometimes depression and alcohol dependency go hand in hand. While alcohol use might temporarily relieve some symptoms of depression, eventually it will make the depression worse. This results in a "Catch 22" situation in which the person becomes depressed, drinks alcohol, the depression gets worse, and more alcohol is consumed.Kavuri did not see any evidence indicating that Moore was a danger to himself at the time but, because he did not recall the circumstances of Moore's hospitalization, thought Moore could be a threat to others or to property. Based on Moore's three hospital- izations within a 50-day period involving alcohol consumption and suicide attempts, Kavuri opined that Moore is potentially a danger to himself in the near future. Kavuri noted that, during Moore's hospitalization, he has been cooperative in taking his medications; however, he appears to have no insight into his alcohol problem. Kavuri recommended that Moore be placed as an in-patient at Geoghegan as the least restrictive alternative. If this alternative is not satisfactory, Moore should go the McFarland Mental Health Center.

On cross-examination, Kavuri stated that Moore was first evaluated by the emergency room physician. After this, and while Moore was still in the emergency room, Kavuri met with a "treatment team" to discuss what could be done for Moore in light of the fact he had been discharged only five days prior to the June 10, 1997, admission. He was aware at that time that Moore was in the emergency room on an involuntary petition. Kavuri is aware of no threats Moore has made toward others or aggressive conduct toward others.

When questioned regarding what time Moore was admitted, Kavuri stated this depends on when he "actually steps on the [psychiatric] unit." That was at 11:45 a.m. on June 10, 1997. The "admission sheet" or "face sheet" states that Moore was admitted to St. Mary's at 7:56 a.m. on June 10, 1997. Kavuri certified Moore at 9 a.m. on June 11, 1997; Kavuri denied this was more than 24 hours after Moore was admitted to the facility.

On redirect examination, Kavuri stated that the seventh-floor psychiatric unit at St. Mary's is the only place in the hospital that is licensed as a mental health facility.

At the close of the State's evidence, Moore's counsel moved for a directed verdict, arguing that Moore had not been examined by a psychiatrist within 24 hours of admission, as ...

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