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In re Robert R.

March 26, 2003

IN RE ROBERT R., ALLEGED TO BE A PERSON SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT R., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 01-MH-165 Honorable Ralph J. Mendelsohn, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

UNPUBLISHED

CONSOLIDATED APPEAL

This is an appeal from two separate orders of the circuit court for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medications to Robert R. (respondent). Respondent filed a timely pro se notice of appeal after each of the court's orders, and we have consolidated the appeals for the purposes of this decision. The issues for review are (1) whether the circuit court erred in proceeding in respondent's absence at the first hearing and (2) whether the court erred in ordering the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication requested in the second petition, when a predispositional report had not been filed. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 23, 2001, respondent was transferred to the Alton Mental Health Center from the Peoria County jail after being found unfit to stand trial for aggravated battery. On September 4, 2001, Dr. Jagannath Patil of the Alton Mental Health Center filed a petition with the court. The petition alleged that respondent was a person subject to the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication pursuant to section 2-107.1 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West Supp. 2001)). In the petition, Dr. Patil alleged that respondent had refused to take psychotropic medications while he was in jail and continued to refuse such medication while at the mental health center because of illogical or irrational reasoning and delusional beliefs.

On September 6, 2001, a hearing on the petition was held in a courtroom within the Alton Mental Health Center. However, respondent, a patient at the mental health center, did not appear in the courtroom. Respondent's attorney advised the court that, though respondent wanted to attend the hearing, he did not wish to be placed in restraints to be moved from the building where he was housed to the building in which the hearing was to be held. Respondent's attorney, relying upon section 3-806 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-806 (West 2000)), requested that the proceedings be moved to a courtroom located within the unit where respondent was located. The court denied the request and found that the holding of proceedings at the mental health center was sufficient to accommodate respondent. The hearing then began, without counsel waiving respondent's presence. The court found respondent to be a person subject to the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. Respondent filed a timely pro se appeal.

On November 26, 2001, Dr. Patil filed another petition seeking the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. On November 29, 2001, a hearing attended by respondent and his counsel was held. Dr. Patil testified as the State's only witness.

Dr. Patil testified that he was respondent's treating psychiatrist and that he had diagnosed him as suffering from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Dr. Patil testified that, as a result of this diagnosis, respondent exhibits delusional, disorganized thinking and aggressive behaviors. Dr. Patil testified that at the time of the testimony respondent was on medication and that some of his symptoms had improved. However, respondent continued to exhibit delusional paranoia and bizarre thinking. Dr. Patil stated that psychotropic medication is a necessary part of respondent's treatment, and he asked that the court approve specific dosages of risperidone and Depakote with alternating medications of Clozaril, Haldol, and Ativan. These medications, he testified, would help rid respondent of his delusional beliefs and stabilize his psychiatric condition, improving his ability to interact with others and to benefit from counseling, leading to his possible fitness to stand trial. In assessing whether respondent had any conditions that would put him at an extraordinary, serious risk of harm from any of the recommended medications, Dr. Patil noted that respondent had previously suffered a myocardial infarct that would require a work-up EKG by a cardiologist before Clozaril could be administered to respondent.

At the close of the evidence, respondent's attorney argued that the State had not proven that less restrictive treatment options had been explored and found inappropriate. Respondent's attorney contended that, in the absence of a predispositional report pursuant to section 3-810 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-810 (West 2000)), it was impossible for the State to have proven that less restrictive treatment options had been explored and found inappropriate. The State responded by noting that there had been specific testimony elicited on the issue of less restrictive treatment services and no contrary evidence. The State conceded that there had not been a predispositional report prepared.

The court found that respondent was a person subject to the involuntary administration of the psychotropic medications requested, with the exception of Clozaril. Respondent filed a timely pro se appeal.

II. ANALYSIS

Respondent first argues that he was denied an opportunity to be heard when the court refused to accommodate his attorney's request to move the location of the hearing and then proceeded in respondent's absence. We disagree.

At the onset of the hearing on September 6, 2001, respondent's attorney informed the court that respondent originally wanted to come to court but had not understood that he would have to be restrained. Further, respondent had apparently misunderstood that the hearing was to be held in a building different from the one in which he was being housed. Respondent's attorney then requested that the hearing be moved to the forensic unit of the Alton Mental Health Center, where respondent was housed. In support of this request, respondent's attorney cited to section 3-806(b) of the Code, which states in part, "The court shall make reasonable accommodation of any request by the recipient's attorney concerning the location of the hearing" (405 ILCS 5/3-806(b) (West 2000)).

The court, however, denied the request, pointing out that it had already made reasonable accommodations and noting further that a move to the forensic unit would raise security concerns involving court and hospital personnel. The court further emphasized the impracticality of holding a hearing wherever a patient wished it to be held. After the court had denied the request to move the hearing, respondent's attorney informed the court that he did not have authority to waive respondent's right to be present at the hearing. The court asked the State whether it wanted to lay a foundation to explain why respondent was not present. The State called Theresa Mitchell, a licensed clinical social worker employed at the Alton Mental Health Center.

Mitchell testified that she worked in the forensic unit where respondent was a patient. On the morning of the hearing, the nursing staff informed her that respondent had stated that he wanted to go to court but was agitated because he did not want to have any security devices on. Mitchell testified that, as a forensic patient at the Alton Mental Health Center, respondent was required to be secured with shackles before he could move from building to building. She testified that when she discussed the matter with him, respondent became very agitated, telling Mitchell that he did not want to go to court if he had to wear restraining devices. Mitchell said she believed that ...


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