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In re Lawrence S.

March 20, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lee County. No. 00--MH--10. Honorable Tomas M. Magdich, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rapp.

Not released for publication

Opinion issued February 16, 2001 withdrawn.

The respondent, Lawrence S., appeals from the entry of an order of involuntary admission by the Lee County circuit court. 405 ILCS 5/3--701 (West 1998).

Respondent contends that the involuntary admission must be reversed because (1) the trial court allowed him to proceed pro se without inquiring into his capacity to make an informed waiver of his right to counsel; (2) the trial court denied him the right to cross-examine the State's witnesses; (3) the State did not present clear and convincing evidence that he was subject to involuntary admission; and (4) the State failed to present a written predispositional report and failed to otherwise prove that inpatient hospitalization was the least restrictive treatment alternative.

Because we agree with respondent's second and fourth contentions, we reverse. On April 17, 2000, a petition seeking the involuntary admission of respondent to an Illinois mental health facility was filed in the circuit court of Lee County. At that time, respondent was in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) at Dixon Correctional Center. The petition alleged that respondent was a person subject to involuntary judicial admission, pursuant to the provisions of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Mental Health Code)(405 ILCS 5/3--700 (West 1998)). The petition was accompanied by two certificates executed by a psychologist and the chief psychiatrist at the Dixon Correctional Center. In the certificates it was opined that respondent is a person who is mentally ill, that because of his illness he is reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm on himself or another in the near future, and that he is unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from physical harm. The matter was set for hearing April 19, 2000. At the April 19, 2000, hearing respondent's court-appointed counsel informed the court that respondent wished to represent himself. The following exchange occurred:

"RESPONDENT'S COUNSEL: *** I've met with Mr. [S.] first at the Dixon Correctional Center and about two minutes ago and both times he made it quite clear he did not want me to represent him.

THE COURT: Is that correct, Mr. [S.], you don't want a lawyer?

MR. [S.]: I want to defend myself.

THE COURT: Okay. Alright, if there's something happens here that you don't understand, please tell me.

MR. [S.]: Yeah.

THE COURT: Thank you for coming [respondent's counsel]."

The State's first witness was Dr. Dobier, a licensed clinical psychologist from the Dixon Correctional Center. Dr. Dobier first met respondent on April 4, 2000, when respondent was transferred to Dixon Correctional Center from Statesville Correctional Center. Respondent did not cooperate when Dr. Dobier attempted to interview him. Dr. Dobier said that she primarily relied on respondent's records in assessing respondent's psychiatric condition. Dr. Dobier diagnosed respondent as a schizophrenic, paranoid type.

Dr. Dobier explained that respondent has bizarre delusions that the State of Illinois has a satellite that is broadcasting laser beams to him and inserting thoughts in his head. In a meeting with Dr. Dobier, respondent told her that she was a state representative and it was her responsibility to have the satellites turned off. Dr. Dobier opined that respondent is a danger to himself or others and might cause others serious physical harm. Dr. Dobier based her opinion on her review of respondent's IDOC master file, which indicated respondent had on three occasions attacked persons respondent believed were involved in the conspiracy to have thoughts transmitted to his head. Dr. Dobier testified that she was unable to ascertain whether respondent could take care of himself, and she did not know if respondent had any family members who could assist him should he be released. It was Dr. Dobier's opinion that it was necessary to commit respondent to a mental health facility, and she was aware of no less restrictive alternative.

The trial court asked Dr. Dobier when respondent was to be released from IDOC. The witness responded, "April 21, 2000." The trial court then asked the witness the offense for which respondent was confined. The witness answered that respondent was incarcerated on a parole violation for the offense of burglary. At that point respondent interjected that he had originally been "put in there" for auto theft and snatching a purse from a 12-year-old girl.

After being informed that the assistant State's Attorney had no further questions of Dr. Dobier, the following exchange took place:

"THE COURT: Okay, thank you. You're excused.

ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY: Did you want to give him ...

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