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In Re: Charles K., A Person Found Subject To Admission v. Charles K

November 23, 2010


Appeal from Involuntary Circuit Court of Macon County No. 10MH27 Honorable Lisa Holder White, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Appleton

JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the opinion of the court: In February 2010, a petition was filed for the emergency involuntary admission of respondent, Charles K., alleging he was mentally ill, reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or others, and unable to provide for his basic physical needs. The trial court conducted a jury trial and, upon the jury's verdict finding respondent was a person subject to involuntary admission, ordered respondent hospitalized for no more than 90 days. On appeal, respondent claims the order must be reversed because the jury was not instructed that the State was required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he was mentally ill. We affirm.


On February 4, 2010, Decatur police officer T. Tool filed a petition for emergency involuntary admission as to respondent pursuant to section 3-601 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-601 (West 2008)). In his factual basis, Tool stated respondent was found at the Holiday Inn in Decatur after police were called because respondent was "barking at patrons who were entering and exiting" the hotel. Tool spoke with respondent, "who was making no sense and stated 'they are watching me.'" Tool asked respondent who was watching him and respondent "would change the subject[,] again making no sense as he communicated."

The petition alleged respondent was (1) mentally ill, (2) reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future, (3) unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm without the assistance of family or outside help, and (4) in need of immediate hospitalization for the prevention of such harm. Two medical certificates were also filed indicating respondent was subject to involuntary admission and in need of immediate hospitalization.

Respondent elected to have his petition heard by a jury, and on February 16, 2010, the trial court conducted respondent's jury trial. Outside the presence of the jury, the State introduced two exhibits. Exhibit No. 1 was a comprehensive examination and social investigation report and treatment plan, which indicated that respondent had "multiple past psychiatric hospitalizations for mental illness" and he was uncooperative with treatment. Exhibit No. 2 was a typed one-page document identifying the "Appropriateness and Availability of Alternative Treatment Settings," "Proposed Treatment Methods," and "Timetable for Achievement of Treatment Goals." According to this exhibit, respondent's refusal to take his medication had "consistently been an issue for him and the major reason for his hospitalizations." His refusal, coupled with his resulting aggressive behavior, made placement at his home or in a nursing home "impractical." It was recommended that respondent be hospitalized at Andrew McFarland Mental Health Center (McFarland) . The exhibit further indicated that medication was the "essential" treatment for controlling respondent's symptoms, but he would also be urged to participate in other means of treatment such as individual, group, occupational, and recreational therapies. Finally, "[g]iven the severity and chronicity of [respondent]'s condition[,] as well as his history of noncompliance, a minimum of three months--and probably much longer--of inpatient treatment will probably be required in order to have any real impact on his functioning." Our review of the record indicates that the jury was never presented with, or even aware of, these exhibits.

After the trial court admitted these exhibits into evidence, the court summoned the jury, and the State presented the following testimony. Dr. Rohi Patil testified he had worked as a psychiatrist at St. Mary's Hospital for 34 years. Based on his examination of respondent, Dr. Patil diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and opined that respondent was experiencing "severe" psychotic episodes. Respondent was "very psychotic," hostile, and angry. Dr. Patil described respondent's behavior and statements as "bizarre." For example, Dr. Patil told respondent he did not understand what respondent was saying, and respondent replied that only the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could understand him. Dr. Patil said he had examined respondent every day since his admission, and respondent remained paranoid and delusional and had refused his medications. In Dr. Patil's opinion, respondent was unable to care for himself in his current mental state.

Dr. Patil testified that he had reviewed respondent's mental-health records and discovered that respondent had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for "a number of years." Respondent was most recently hospitalized for treatment for six months last year at McFarland in Springfield. According to Dr. Patil, respondent's current prognosis with treatment was good, but without treatment, it was "poor." Without treatment, there was "a high likelihood" that respondent "may hurt somebody." Dr. Patil recommended that respondent be treated at McFarland in order to "protect him and protect other people."

On cross-examination, Dr. Patil described respondent as follows: "He's a very sick gentleman, really sick. Needing the help. Has no insight into his problems."

Shelly Perry, a registered nurse at St. Mary's, testified next for the State. She described respondent as "threatening [and] aggressive." She described a recent incident where she had knocked on respondent's door, announcing that she had his oral medication. Respondent jumped out of bed, "was in [her] face in a very intimidating manner[,]" and threatened her with violence if she did not leave. She left respondent's room, but he chased after her to the nurses' station. Perry said respondent was frequently very agitated and intimidating and has invaded her "personal space." On another occasion, four or five days after the first incident, Perry said she had to request the services of hospital security due to respondent's threatening, intimidating and impulsive behavior. He had approached the nurses' station, asking to leave the unit. When his request was denied, he initially became agitated, but his behavior escalated until he threatened to assault the staff. Security had to physically restrain respondent until the staff could inject him with a sedative. Perry said respondent has told her that he was "the Archbishop to the Pope" and a CIA agent.

Perry also testified that respondent was not taking care of his personal hygiene on his own. She said the staff had to order him to take a shower, brush his teeth, and comb his hair. Perry had observed respondent threaten other nurses and behave in what Perry described as a sexually inappropriate manner with other staff members. Respondent was in a housekeeper's "personal space, kind of looming over her" when he asked her for her telephone number. According to Perry, the housekeeper felt uncomfortable. Perry redirected respondent without incident, informing him he was acting inappropriately. Perry said on every shift she worked, she observed respondent "looming over" people, entering into their personal space. He was not always redirected easily. In those two or three instances where they were unable to redirect him, the staff would use the gathering of "silent speed teams" or a "show of force," which indicated to respondent that he was outnumbered.

Laterrika Bradford, a front-desk employee at the Decatur Holiday Inn, testified that respondent was a guest at the hotel on February 3, 2010. During Bradford's 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, she saw respondent in the lobby. He approached her at the front desk and said something to her, but Bradford did not understand what he was saying. She shook her head and he walked away. She saw respondent approach a male guest who was walking through the lobby. Respondent grabbed the man's arm. Bradford said the man looked afraid, but walked away from respondent. Respondent approached Bradford at the front desk multiple times. Each time he began approaching, Bradford picked up the telephone and simulated a conversation. Bradford said respondent was scaring her. Each time respondent saw Bradford on the telephone, he would approach someone else in the lobby. Bradford estimated that respondent approached approximately 20 different people. She also saw respondent talking to a wall, but she could not understand anything he said.

One guest told Bradford that he did not feel comfortable at the hotel with respondent there. Another guest told respondent to go to his room, but he ignored her, so she called the police. When the police arrived, respondent refused to go to his room and was generally uncooperative with their requests.

Bradford said respondent did not make any aggressive gestures toward her or the other guests, but she was still afraid of him due to his odd behavior. She admitted that in terms of physical contact, respondent did nothing more than grab another person's arm and try to initiate a conversation.

Stephen J. Rathnow, a licensed clinical professional counselor, testified that he worked at St. Mary's with the involuntarily admitted patients. Rathnow had difficulty speaking with respondent because respondent would either refuse to talk to him or would mutter, ramble, or speak unintelligibly. Rathnow had not seen respondent become aggressive but had seen him talking and arguing with himself in the hallway. He would frequently shake his finger at the wall, which Rathnow described as a response to internal stimuli, such as auditory or visual hallucinations--symptoms that individuals with a "serious mental illness" often experience. He said initially, respondent refused to shower, but lately he had complied when directed. However, respondent continued to be noncompliant with his treatment. In Rathnow's opinion, if respondent did not remain hospitalized, his prognosis was "[v]ery poor" and his condition would deteriorate, resulting in activity that would put himself and others at "great risk."

Robert K., respondent's brother, testified next for the State. Robert said respondent has had mental-health issues for "quite a few years." After respondent's hospitalization at St. Mary's, Robert visited respondent's home and described it as follows:

"A water hose was stuck in a washing machine in the basement. It flooded out his basement. His stove in the kitchen was burnt black. They had to take it out and put it in the back yard. It's a wonder he didn't burn the house down. His wiring, he's got the plates off the wall, and the wire's sticking out, and the receptacle is sticking out. There's water dripping from the *** first floor ceiling in the kitchen down in onto the floor and on the walls. Scum on the walls. He threw his clothes out in the street. He threw his clothes in the front yard. He threw his clothes on the roof.

Electricity right now is shut off. They're trying to get it on so they can clean his walls and everything and get it straightened up for him."

Robert testified that respondent had been hospitalized at McFarland twice and once at a facility in Elgin. He said when respondent took his medication, he was fine. When he refused to take his medication, "he gets in trouble." Robert said respondent "needs help" and needs to be hospitalized.

Robert said he and his family tried to watch over respondent at home. Their mother could see respondent's house from her house, and Robert's daughter and son-inlaw stopped by regularly to check on him. He said respondent's home was usually in disarray, but since his hospitalization, it had been condemned by the fire department. Robert's children were working on the house to get it liveable again.

At the conclusion of Robert's testimony, the State rested. The trial court continued the trial until the next day. On February 17, 2010, the trial resumed with respondent testifying on his own behalf. He said, before staying at the Holiday Inn in Decatur for two days, he lived in his own home in Lincoln. He explained in detail, but in rambling fashion, the electrical and plumbing problems at his home. When asked about his stove, respondent explained that he had unplugged the "self-starter" and the pilot light "melted," starting a fire. He said the blackness observed on the stove was the "fire extinguishing material."

Respondent said he met a "very good friend" and "business people" at the Holiday Inn. He said he might have grabbed them by the arm to shake their hand in an attempt to be "real friendly and courteous." The following exchange occurred:

"Q. So, everybody you talked to at the hotel, did you know them?

A. Pretty much or knew where they were from because I could tell by their language. I speak many languages. Also--(inaudible)--that's beside the point.

Q. Okay.

A. (Unintelligible utterance) ...

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