Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 09-MH-119 Honorable Clarence W. Harrison II, Judge, presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wexstten
Rule 23 order filed July 27, 2011;
Motion to publish granted
JUSTICE WEXSTTEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Goldenhersh and Donovan concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 The respondent, Michael F., appeals from an order of the circuit court of Madison County granting a petition for an involuntary admission. On appeal, the respondent argues that the court's decision should be reversed because the circuit court failed to determine before the hearing that the respondent could knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to counsel. We reverse.
¶ 3 On July 13, 2009, the respondent, who was a voluntary patient at Alton Mental Health Center, signed a written request for a discharge. On July 20, 2009, Alton Mental Health Center social worker Jolene Becker filed a petition alleging that the respondent was a person subject to an involuntary admission pursuant to section 3-600 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (the Mental Health Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-600 (West 2008)). Becker alleged that the respondent was a person with a mental illness; that because of his mental illness, he was reasonably expected to engage in dangerous conduct placing him or another at reasonable risk for harm; that because of the nature of his illness, he was unable to understand his need for treatment and, if not treated, was reasonably expected to continue to suffer mental deterioration or emotional deterioration to the point that he was reasonably expected to engage in dangerous conduct; and that he was in need of immediate hospitalization for the prevention of that harm.
¶ 4 On August 4, 2009, at the hearing on the petition, the respondent's counsel indicated that the respondent wanted to represent himself. The circuit court then addressed the respondent, asking whether he desired to represent himself, whether he desired to discharge his attorney, and whether he understood that he would be held to the same standard as if represented by counsel. After answering these questions in the affirmative, the respondent again stated that he desired to represent himself. The court indicated that it was granting the respondent's request to waive his right to counsel, but the following colloquy ensued:
"[Respondent's counsel:] Your Honor, it would be our position that you would have to inquire whether he has the capacity to do so at this time.
THE COURT: I think the problem I'm going to have is being able to determine that without some evidence as to his current capacity is going to be limited [sic]. My thought is that unless I have the testimony with regard to the Involuntary Petition, I may not be able to make that determination, and to do so preliminarily would require me to essentially make assumptions regarding [the respondent]. In the event that the testimony with regard to the petition is so sufficient, I may have to reconsider whether I have allowed him to represent himself."
¶ 5 The circuit court thereafter asked the respondent if he knew where he was, the current date, and the name of the acting president. After the respondent answered each question correctly, the court stated, "I'll be reserving my ultimate ruling to observe [the respondent's] participation in the case itself, but I will be going ahead and taking [evidence] on the petition, allowing [the respondent] *** to engage in basic representation."
¶ 6 Becker then testified that the respondent had been recently admitted to the Alton Mental Health Center on June 27, 2009, when it was reported that he threatened bodily harm to his mother, that he had been living in an apartment with no electricity or food when the weather heat index had been above 100 degrees, and that he had been highly agitated about military deployment operations, believing himself to be a high commander in the United States Army and Marines, although he was not a veteran.
¶ 7 Becker testified that the respondent had been previously admitted to Alton Mental Health Center in March 2008 and then from April to July 2008. Becker testified that the respondent suffered from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, with alcohol and cannabis use. Becker testified that the respondent continued to be delusional and grandiose. Becker testified that the respondent did not believe that he had a mental illness and did not believe that he needed treatment.
¶ 8 Becker testified that the Alton Mental Health Center staff had administered emergency medications to the respondent for 72 hours, due to the respondent's aggression, including threatening behavior towards a peer. Becker testified that in the previous week, the staff began emergency medications once more ...