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People v. Wolst

March 29, 2004


[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County 96 CR 15947 Hon. Gary L. Brownfield, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McBRIDE

[8]  Defendant, Raymond Wolst, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. In 1996, defendant shot and killed a stranger in a health club while under the delusional belief that the victim was a federal agent. While initially found unfit for trial, defendant was subsequently found fit and not guilty by reason of insanity in November 1997. Defendant was thereafter confined to Elgin Mental Health Center. On January 23, 2002, the facility director at Elgin recommended that defendant be transferred to a non-secure setting and that he be granted supervised off-grounds and unsupervised on-grounds pass privileges. On February 28, 2002, defendant petitioned the trial court for a transfer to a non-secure setting; supervised off-grounds pass privileges; and unsupervised on-grounds pass privileges under section 5-2-4(e) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Corrections Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(e) (West 2000)). On August 15, 2002, the trial court granted the unsupervised on-grounds pass privilege, but denied defendant's request to be transferred to a non-secure setting and request for supervised off-grounds pass privileges. Defendant appeals the trial court's denial of these two privileges.

[9]  We address the following issues: (1) whether the trial court's decision to deny the two requested privileges was against the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) whether the trial court's application of the current version of section 5-2-4(g) of the Corrections Code was an improper retroactive application of the law in violation of section 4 of the Statute on Statutes (5 ILCS 70/4 (West 2000); (3) whether the application of the current version of section 5-2-4(g) violates the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution; (4) whether section 5-2-4(g), as amended, violates defendant's substantive due process rights under the United States Constitution by shifting the burden of proof to defendant; and (5) whether section 5-2-4(g), as amended, violates procedural due process by failing to ensure adequate safeguards for the protection of defendant's liberty interest. We state the following background facts.

[10]   At a hearing on July 17, 2002, defendant presented the testimony of four witnesses to support the relief requested.

[11]   Judy Long, a social worker at Elgin, said she had known the defendant since 1997, and that he was the most "appropriate" patient in the unit. She stated defendant did not fight or argue with anyone, nor did he threaten or harm anyone. Long said that defendant had changed while admitted at Elgin, that he had a "good range of emotions," and that he was no longer suffering from delusions.

[12]   Long explained that defendant had requested a transfer to William White Cottage (WWC), which is a non-secure unit approximately half a block from the Elgin facility. While the windows and doors at WWC were locked all the time, she stated that there was no security fence around the building. She explained that if a patient wanted to leave WWC, the patient would need an authorized pass and a legitimate destination. A staff person at the doorway checks the patients in and out. To her knowledge, no one had ever escaped from WWC.

[13]   Long described an unsupervised on-ground pass privilege as allowing the bearer to travel about a half a block between the housing building and the program building for treatment purposes. In conjunction with the pass, the patient's psychiatric ability is evaluated on a daily basis. If the patient is determined to be unstable, then the privilege is revoked.

[14]   Long then characterized defendant's third request, the off-grounds supervised privilege pass, as allowing the patient to occasionally "go off the unit" with staff supervision for the purpose of reintegration into society. An example of this privilege might be "[going] to a driver's license facility and [getting] a state ID, or *** [learning] about resources in the community." For the off-ground trips, there is one staff member for every three patients. In the event a patient attempted to escape while on a trip, staff are trained in the use of restraints and handcuff procedures.

[15]   Dr. Roni Seltzberg, a medical doctor and staff psychiatrist for the circuit court of Cook County forensic medical services, testified that she evaluated defendant on June 6, 2002, pursuant to a court order. In her opinion, defendant's mental status had changed significantly since the crime. She determined that defendant was no longer having delusions. She diagnosed defendant as suffering from schizophrenia, paranoid type, which is currently in remission with medication. Seltzberg said that the medication is the major reason defendant had improved. Defendant currently receives two milligrams of Risperidone daily. Risperidone is an antipsychotic agent.

[16]   Seltzberg stated that defendant does not present a danger to himself or to others provided he continues with his medication. She pointed out that defendant has not threatened anyone or injured himself since he has been in remission. Seltzberg opined that defendant's transfer to WWC would not pose a danger to defendant or others and would continue to benefit defendant. She did not think the transfer created a risk that defendant would escape or that other patients in the WWC unit would be at risk, as long as defendant continued to take his medication. Seltzberg also said that the transfer would not jeopardize the likelihood that defendant would continue to take his medicine because he would still be in the structured, supervised, and hospital-like setting of WWC.

[17]   With regard to the unsupervised on-ground passes, Seltzberg opined that granting this privilege would not pose a risk because defendant did not represent any threat to others or any indication of an intent to escape. With regard to the supervised off-ground pass, she found no evidence that defendant posed a risk of harm to himself or to others, provided he continued taking his medication. The Doctor said that her opinion would absolutely change if defendant stopped taking his medication because her opinion was based upon defendant's continued compliance with taking prescribed medications. Seltzberg stated that the only thing that keeps defendant's symptoms from returning is the drug defendant takes and that defendant will likely need to take the drug forever. She also indicated that stress affected defendant's disease.

[18]   Seltzberg described WWC as:

"a non-secure building in that it is outside the forensic fence that surrounds the main forensic building, but it is still secure in the sense that it is a locked unit, and the people that are residents are monitored, are provided medications, supervision, and treatment as if they were in any other secured hospital where the doors are locked. They can't just walk in and out at will."

[20]   Counsel for the State then asked Seltzberg:

"Q. But the only new stressers would be [defendant's responsibility for] requesting his medicine at the appropriate time and being left alone?
A. I don't know that I would refer to it as being a stresser necessarily in this case.
Q. You wouldn't consider that a difference in his environment that wouldn't be considered a stress factor?
A. That may or may not [be] to certain individuals. I don't believe that would be a problem for Mr. Wolst."

[25]   Finally, Seltzberg said that defendant's failure to take medication would increase the likelihood that defendant could potentially injure someone or himself.

[26]   Dr. Albert Stipes, a staff psychiatrist and assistant director for forensic clinical services at the Cook County circuit court, testified that he examined defendant on April 13, 2002. He said that defendant's condition had changed since the time of the offense and he diagnosed defendant as having schizophrenia, paranoid type, in remission with medication. Stipes stated that defendant's medication is the most important reason for defendant's improvement. He reiterated that defendant receives two milligrams of Risperidone daily which prevents delusions, hallucinations, and thought disorder associated with schizophrenia.

[27]   Dr. Stipes testified that defendant's transfer would be safe for the defendant and others because the treatment, medication, and security measures would ensure everyone's safety. He stated that WWC is a locked unit and that patients can only leave if permitted by staff. He said that he did not believe that defendant posed a risk of harm to others or risk of escape from WWC. In his view, defendant's request for an unsupervised on-ground pass should have been granted based on the improvement in defendant's clinical condition and the security measures in force for patients with passes. Stipes further endorsed the granting of an supervised off-ground pass because defendant would be accompanied by staff ensuring the safety of others. According to Stipes, it was necessary for defendant to continue taking his medication, but none of the three requests made by defendant would interfere with him taking it. The doctor said that, if defendant stopped taking his medication, he would not be in favor of granting the passes or the transfer. Stipes admitted that, theoretically, defendant could walk off the grounds with an unsupervised on-ground pass. However, he said that staff would likely see defendant because they would be looking out the window to watch him.

[28]   Dr. Hargurmukh Signh, a psychiatrist employed by the forensic program at Elgin Mental Health Center, testified that he knew defendant and provided treatment to him almost every work day. He diagnosed defendant as schizophrenic, paranoid type. Signh explained that defendant had changed since the crime and that he no longer had symptoms of schizophrenia and that he was considered one of the most stable patients in the unit. The doctor confirmed that defendant took two milligrams of Risperidone daily and he supported defendant receiving the relief requested. He said that no one from WWC had ever escaped because they were in possession of a supervised off-ground pass. The doctor stated that 25% of the patients who get the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia relapse when they do not take their medication.

[29]   During Signh's testimony the trial judge asked the witness:

[30]   "THE COURT: Now, if I want to grant [defendant] to be transferred to the [WWC] building, and I was to grant him unsupervised on-ground passes, where would he be allowed to go?

[31]   THE WITNESS: Mainly he will be allowed to come back to the main forensic building to the programs which are available, and then when his treatment team sees him suitable he will be allowed to go to building 110, which is rehab, because they have a separate workshop ***.

[32]   THE COURT: Is there a gate before you get to Route 131?

[33]   THE WITNESS: Yes there is a traffic light, 131, and there is Elgin ***, no security door.

[34]   THE COURT: No security, no guard?

[35]   THE WITNESS: No.

[36]   THE COURT: So, *** he could just walk out, correct?

[37]   THE WITNESS: Theoretically, yes.

[38]   THE COURT: Why is the proposal or recommendation, why is it [not] one step at a time, rather than all three at once?

[39]   THE WITNESS: Because doing one - this is just using the street language, if you put him in White Cottage, don't give him ground pass -

[40]   THE COURT: Let's make White Cottage the third step rather than the first step, let's look at it. Why would he go in a procedure where first we would have on-ground passes unsupervised, the second step would be supervised off-ground passes, and the third step would be William White. Why wouldn't we proceed in that fashion? Why do we want to do all at once?

[41]   THE WITNESS: We have seen that this way it is more effective, because White Cottage [has] certain things available [that] we don't have. For example, they have what we call medication compliance program, which means there is more emphasis on self-reliance, patients have to take their own risks, they have to hear the nurses remind them, well, this is medication time, people come and get their medication.

[42]   Everyone is expected to be there on time, they write it down, who came on time, who didn't, and you keep score.

[43]   So, there are several little things where the emphasis that the patient take more responsibility on their own.

[44]   So, having that environment, giving more privileges, responsibilities, privileges, they both go hand in hand so he get ...

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