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In Re: Joseph P., A Person Found v. Joseph P

December 22, 2010

IN RE: JOSEPH P., A PERSON FOUND
SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JOSEPH P., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.
IN RE: JOSEPH P., A PERSON FOUND SUBJECT TO ADMINISTRATION OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JOSEPH P.,
RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 10MH329, No. 10MH364 Esteban F. Sanchez, Honorable Judge Presiding

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

PRESIDING JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

Respondent, Joseph P., appeals from his involuntary admission pursuant to section 3-600 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-600 (West 2008)) and the order he be involuntarily administered psychotropic medication pursuant to section 2-107.1 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West 2008). Respondent argues the court's order should be reversed because (1) the petition to involuntarily admit him failed to strictly comply with sections 3-606, 3-610, and 3-611 of the Code; (2) no clear and convincing evidence warranted his involuntary admission; and (3) the State failed to prove each statutory element of section 2-107.1 of the Code to justify involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. We find there was not strict compliance with statutory procedures and reverse.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 16, 2010, the State filed a petition for the involuntary admission of respondent, age 18, under section 3-600 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-600 (West 2008)). The petition alleged respondent was mentally ill and, by reason of the mental illness, unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm. In support of those allegations, the petition included a factual basis provided by his mother. His mother stated, "[respondent] talks continually about how he can not do anything in life now because the government conspiracies, the doctor's conspiracies against him and my conspiracies against him." She also reported he has been found walking down the highway asking for rides even though he has no money and nowhere to go. He has become more aggressive with his mother and has screamed at her she is a "psychotic bitch" and a criminal. Respondent's mother is afraid he will harm her or his sister. He stopped taking his medication and has dropped out of school. Respondent does not sleep well and stays up most of the night. He paces continuously, rubs his hands together until they are raw and constantly twirls his hair. He hears noises outside and thinks they are gunshots. When a police officer came to take him from his mother's home to the hospital, respondent told the officer he thinks about harming his mother or his sister.

Respondent arrived at the emergency room of Blessing Hospital (Blessing) in Quincy at 2:40 a.m. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. According to the signed affirmation of a registered nurse at Blessing, she served the petition upon respondent at 3 a.m. on April 15, 2010. However, the petition was not signed by respondent's mother until 6:30 p.m. that same day. He was not examined by a physician at Blessing until 8 p.m. on April 15. Sometime during the night, respondent was transferred to McFarland Mental Health Center (McFarland), where he was examined by another physician at 3 a.m. on April 16, 2010.

The petition, when filed in the Sangamon County circuit court at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning, April 16, 2010, was accompanied by the certificates of the two physicians. A psychiatrist examined respondent at McFarland at 2:10 p.m. on April 16. The certificate of the psychiatrist was filed with the court the following Monday, April 19, 2010.

On Friday, April 23, 2010, the trial court appointed counsel, set a hearing for that date, and over respondent's objection, continued the hearing for seven days to April 30. On April 27, 2010, the State filed a petition for the administration of authorized involuntary treatment of respondent. On April 30, respondent was involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility and ordered he be subjected to involuntary treatment.

Respondent appealed both the involuntary commitment and the authorization for involuntary treatment. The appeals were consolidated.

II. ANALYSIS

On appeal, respondent argues the trial court's order should be reversed because (1) the petition to involuntarily admit him failed to strictly comply with section 3-606 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-606 (West 2008)), which provides a police officer who transports a person to a mental-health facility may complete an involuntary-admission petition himself or shall identify himself on the petition as a potential witness with name, badge number, and employer; (2) the State failed to strictly comply with section 3-610 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-610 (West 2008)), which provides a psychiatrist shall examine a respondent within 24 hours after admission, otherwise the respondent shall be released; (3) the State failed to strictly comply with section 3-611 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-611 (West 2008)), which provides a petition for involuntary admission and first certificate shall be filed with the court within 24 hours after a respondent's admission in the county where the facility is located and a hearing shall be set and held within five business days after the petition and certificate are filed; (4) the trial court violated his constitutional and statutory rights to liberty because no clear and convincing evidence warranted his admission due to the inability to care for his basic physical needs without assistance; and (5) the order authorizing involuntary medication violated his liberty interests because the State failed to prove the required statutory elements for forced medication in violation of section 2-107.1 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West 2008)).

A. Mootness

Both parties agree the issues raised by respondent are moot. Respondent's commitment order, entered April 30, 2010, was limited in duration to 90 days. In this case, as in In re Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d 482, 490, 702 N.E.2d 555, 559 (1998), respondent could be held involuntarily only if a new petition were filed and a new hearing conducted. Whether the commitment order was valid or not, it no longer can serve as the basis for adverse action against respondent. Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d at 490, 702 N.E.2d at 559. Any decision on the merits would result in an advisory opinion and Illinois courts of review do not render advisory opinions or decide moot questions. Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d at 491, 702 N.E.2d at 559.

Respondent argues, however, any or all of these three exceptions to the mootness doctrine apply and, therefore, this court should hear his appeal: (1) capable of repetition but avoiding review; (2) collateral consequences; and (3) public interest. The State has conceded the public-interest exception applies to respondent's assertions there was no strict compliance with certain sections of the Code but disagrees this exception applies to respondent's assertions regarding evidentiary questions.

1. Capable of Repetition but Avoiding Review Where a case involves an event of short duration "capable of repetition, yet evading review," Illinois courts have held it may qualify for review even if otherwise moot. In re A Minor, 127 Ill. 2d 247, 258, 537 N.E.2d 292, 296-97 (1989). Two criteria must be met in order to receive the benefit of this exception: "(1) the challenged action is in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation and (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again." Barbara H., 183 Ill. 2d at 491, 702 N.E.2d at 559.

As noted earlier, the parties agree there is no question the first criterion has been met. As for the second, respondent argues in analyzing this exception, "same action" has been interpreted to mean the same party could later be subjected to cases based on the same statutory provision or similar orders. In re Suzette D., 388 Ill. App. 3d 978, 983, 904 N.E.2d 1064, 1068-69 (2009). Respondent argues he has raised constitutional and statutory-interpretation arguments which he contends the supreme court in In re Alfred H.H. intimates would be sufficient to overcome the mootness doctrine as "capable of repetition yet avoiding review." See In re Alfred H.H., 233 Ill. 2d 345, 360, 910 N.E.2d 74, 83 (2009). Respondent argues he has raised issues that challenge the trial court's compliance with his statutory rights to proper, timely commitment pleadings, a timely hearing, and treatment in the least-restrictive environment. He contends at his young age (18) he could again face civil commitment and forced medication, having been adjudged mentally ill and subject to commitment and forced medication by the court and now having a history of mental illness. He contends his challenges are partially statutory and, if not resolved, could confront him again in the future. The court in Alfred H.H. intimates constitutional and statutory arguments would be sufficient to overcome the mootness doctrine as "capable of repetition yet avoiding review." See Alfred H.H., 233 Ill. 2d at 360, 910 N.E.2d at 83. Respondent argues the capable-of-repetition exception applies to both appeals.

As noted in Alfred H.H., the respondent's burden when arguing the capable-of-repetition-but-avoiding-review exception is to show a substantial likelihood the issue presented by him, and resolution thereof, would have some bearing on a similar issue in a later case. Alfred H.H., 233 Ill. 2d at 360, 910 N.E.2d at 83. Respondent has not met that burden. The issues of whether respondent was unable to care for his basic physical needs without assistance and whether his liberty interests were violated by authorizing involuntary treatment are clearly fact-based determinations by the trial court. The orders entered in this case were based on respondent's condition at the time of the orders. Any future proceedings would entail a fresh evaluation of his particular condition ...


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