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In re Michelle J.

January 30, 2003

IN RE MICHELLE J., ALLEGED TO BE A PERSON SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE
v.
MICHELLE J., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).
IN RE SAM S., ALLEGED TO BE A PERSON SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE
v.
SAM S., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 01-MH-158 Honorable Ralph J. Mendelsohn, Judge, presiding. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 97-MH-49 Honorable Ralph J. Mendelsohn, Judge, presiding.

Justices: Honorable Terrence J. Hopkins, P.J. Honorable Gordon E. Maag, J., and Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J., Concur

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hopkins

UNPUBLISHED

On August 23, 2001, Michelle J. and Sam S. (collectively respondents) were persons found to be subject to involuntary admission at Alton Mental Health Center. At the hearings for involuntary admission, the expert witnesses for the State testified that neither of them were able to interview respondents prior to the hearing and that their opinion testimony relied upon observations of respondents, a review of respondents' charts and records, prior knowledge of respondents, and discussions with hospital staff who regularly interacted with respondents. Both Michelle J. and Sam S. appeal the orders finding them subject to involuntary admission. They contend that the experts' testimony did not conform with section 3-807 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-807 (West 2000)). Respondents claim that because section 3-807 requires a psychiatrist, clinical social worker, or clinical psychologist to "examine" a respondent and because the experts did not interview respondents, the requirement of section 3-807 was not met and the court's orders must be reversed. We affirm.

FACTS

1. Michelle J.'s Hearing

Dr. Lenora Brown, a licensed clinical psychologist employed at Alton Mental Health Center, testified that she knew Michelle J. and had been a consultant to Michelle J.'s treatment team. Dr. Brown stated that she observed Michelle J. on August 20, 2001, the day of her admission to Alton Mental Health Center. Additionally, Dr. Brown attempted to interview Michelle J. on August 22, 2001, for the purpose of Michelle J.'s hearing for involuntary admission. On August 22, before conducting the interview, Dr. Brown attempted to advise Michelle J. of her rights, but Michelle J. could not respond, so Dr. Brown discontinued the interview. Dr. Brown stated that because of Michelle J.'s deteriorated clinical condition, Dr. Brown did not believe that Michelle J. could make an informed decision concerning her rights. However, Dr. Brown stated that she had reviewed Michelle J.'s chart and records and talked with staff about Michelle J.'s condition and behavior.

Dr. Brown testified that Michelle J. has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, paranoid type. Dr. Brown stated that Michelle J. has had prior admissions to Alton Mental Health Center, the last one being in August 2000. Michelle J. has also had multiple mental health admissions to St. Mary's Hospital, the most recent being July 2001. Dr. Brown reported that at the time of Michelle J.'s admission to Alton Mental Health Center on August 20, Michelle J.'s sister, with whom Michelle J. lives, reported that Michelle J. had inserted a metal pipe into her vagina and stated that she wanted to kill herself. When Michelle J. was admitted to Alton Mental Health Center, she was unkempt, disoriented, and suspicious. Michelle J. was talking to herself and laughing inappropriately. When Michelle J. was at the emergency room of the hospital, she was restless, wandering in and out of the room. Michelle J. was also somewhat hostile and had an occasional temper outburst. Dr. Brown was aware that Michelle J. suffered from postpartum depression following the recent birth of her child.

Dr. Brown also testified that Michelle J. hears voices, has paranoid ideations, demonstrates an unstable mood, and is anxious and agitated. Michelle J. also paces and makes bizarre gestures. On the day of Michelle J.'s admission to Alton Mental Health Center, Michelle J. was given "stat medication" and was placed in restraints for self-injurious behavior. On August 21, 2001, Michelle J. complained of insomnia and of snakes in her bed. It was Dr. Brown's opinion that Michelle J. is in need of involuntary admission to Alton Mental Health Center because Michelle J. is a danger to herself.

Michelle J. also testified at the hearing. Michelle J. stated that she is 19 years old and that she lives with her sister and her father. Michelle J. also stated that her sister and her father make sure she takes her medication, although Michelle J. was not sure what medications she takes. Michelle J. stated that she takes medications for her "nerves" and for her emotions when she becomes "moody like this." Michelle J. admitted that she sometimes hears voices and that she sometimes sees things that other people do not see.

Michelle J. stated that she has two children who are "with the State" until she can get herself together. Michelle J. also stated that she is going crazy because she is afraid she will never see her baby.

2. Sam S.'s Hearing

At Sam S.'s hearing for involuntary admission, Sam S.'s attorney presented Sam S.'s signed waiver of his presence at the hearing. Although Sam S.'s hearing was held at Alton Mental Health Center, Sam S. had recently been transferred to Chester Mental Health Center. Sam S.'s attorney stated that it was his opinion that Sam S.'s current state is such that Sam S.'s presence at the hearing would cause Sam S. severe emotional harm. The court accepted the waiver of Sam S.'s presence and indicated that Sam S.'s hearing on August 23 was for a 180-day review.

Dr. Debra Ferguson, the chief psychologist at Alton Mental Health Center, testified that she is not directly involved with Sam S.'s treatment but that she had reviewed Sam S.'s progress notes and that she is familiar with the "significant features of his treatment." Dr. Ferguson also testified that she had reviewed Sam S.'s chart and records and that she had talked to staff concerning Sam S.'s condition and behavior. Dr. Ferguson attempted to meet with Sam S. for the purpose of interviewing him for ...


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