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In re Timothy H.

December 30, 1998

IN RE TIMOTHY H., ALLEGED TO BE A PERSON IN NEED OF INVOLUNTARY PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER- APPELLEE, V. TIMOTHY H., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 97--MH--162 Honorable Robert L. Janes, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hutchinson

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

On May 2, 1997, the State filed a petition to administer psychotropic medication to respondent, Timothy H., pursuant to section 2--107.1 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (the Code) (405 ILCS 5/2--107.1 (West 1996)). The case proceeded to trial, in which the jury returned a verdict granting the petition, and judgment was entered on the verdict. Respondent appeals the trial court's order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication for up to 90 days to respondent. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

On August 25, 1997, a jury trial was held on the State's petition to administer psychotropic medication to respondent. The record reflects that respondent, respondent's counsel, and counsel for the State were present and conducted voir dire of prospective jurors without a court reporter. The State's first witness was Douglas Brown, respondent's caseworker. Brown described respondent's interaction with others as "loud." He added that respondent would "attack people verbally" and question their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. He believed that respondent's behavior was disruptive to other patients and to the staff at Elgin Mental Health Center (the Center). On cross-examination, Brown stated that respondent never tried to strike him, but that he had seen respondent attempt to hit another individual. Brown could not offer any further details regarding the incident.

Dr. Chandragupta Vedak, a psychiatrist for the Center, testified as an expert witness. He described how the police brought respondent to the Center in November 1996 after finding him lying on the side of a creek in freezing temperatures with inadequate clothing. Vedak opined that respondent was not capable of providing food, shelter, and medical treatment for himself. He added that respondent has interpersonal difficulties such that he has difficulty trusting others, perceives other males as homosexuals, and uses derogatory words to describe others. Respondent has few social skills and reflects an inability to maintain a "personal space" with others. Vedak characterized respondent's behavior with others as disruptive. In Vedak's opinion, respondent suffers from manic depressive illness of rapid cycling type with psychotic features.

Vedak next discussed possible treatments, including antipsychotic medications and mood-stabilizing medications. He described the benefits of the medications as well as the harmful side effects. He noted that respondent refuses to voluntarily take the medications. Vedak, however, testified that he did not believe that respondent has the capacity to make a reasoned decision about psychotropic medication. Vedak also believes that respondent is unable to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the available treatments. Vedak opined that medicating respondent would be the least restrictive measure in treating respondent.

On cross-examination, Vedak testified that, in a prior jury trial on a petition to administer psychotropic medication to respondent, the jury found that respondent was not subject to involuntary medication. Vedak also explained the side effects in greater detail.

The parties proceeded to an instructions conference. The State proffered 11 instructions, to which respondent's counsel made no objection. Respondent's counsel objected to the State's instruction No. 12, which was a verdict form finding in favor of respondent. The instruction was subsequently substituted and admitted. Counsel for respondent proffered no instructions.

The State rested, and respondent testified on his own behalf. Respondent testified that he did not wish to take medication because it was against his religion and because nothing was wrong with him. He discussed the circumstances that brought him to the Center. He also explained an incident at the Center in which he was "attacked" twice by a homosexual individual and had to defend himself. Respondent testified that he tries to avoid violence.

Respondent stated that he did not want to take medication. On cross-examination, respondent discussed the philosophy of his religion, why he was near the creek, the incident of being touched by a homosexual individual, and the side effects of medication.

After closing arguments, the trial court instructed the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the State, finding that respondent was "a person with a serious mental illness, and *** someone who qualifies for the administration of psychotropic medication." The trial court entered its judgment on the verdict. Respondent timely appeals from the trial court's order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication.

Initially, we note that this case is moot. See In re Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d 482. The trial court's order authorizing the administration of psychotropic medication was limited in duration to 90 days, which have since passed. This court has, however, previously recognized an exception to the mootness doctrine for mental health cases. See In re Slaughter, 253 Ill. App. 3d 718, 721-22 (1993).

Recently, though, our supreme court analyzed the qualification of a case for review when it would otherwise be moot. See In re Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d at 491-92. The supreme court utilized the two-part test enunciated in In re A Minor, 127 Ill. 2d 247 (1989), in determining whether Barbara H. should receive the benefit of the exception to the mootness doctrine. To receive the benefit, the In re A Minor case states that the complaining party must demonstrate that (1) the duration of the challenged action is too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation, and (2) a reasonable expectation exists that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again. In re A Minor, 127 Ill. 2d at 258. In determining that both requirements were present, the court in In re Barbara H. subsequently addressed its appeal on the merits.

In the present case, we also find that the exception to the mootness doctrine applies. The trial court's order, dated August 25, 1997, was for 90 days and, therefore, too short in duration to permit appellate review. Furthermore, the record reflects respondent's history of mental illness as well as a prior petition for the administration of psychotropic medication. Given that, one could reasonably expect that respondent in this ...


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