Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County. Honorable Richard A. Brown, Judge, presiding. No. 10-MH-131
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Welch
Decision filed 06/28/12. The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.
JUSTICE WELCH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Goldenhersh and Wexstten concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Avery S. (the appellant) appeals from an order entered by the circuit court of Randolph County on October 20, 2010, which found him subject to involuntary admission to a Department of Human Services mental health or developmental center. The circuit court's order found that the appellant was subject to involuntary admission because he was a person with a mental illness who, because of that illness, was (1) reasonably expected to engage in dangerous conduct which may include threatening behavior or conduct that places himself or another in reasonable expectation of being harmed, (2) unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm, and (3) unable to understand his need for treatment and who, if not treated, is reasonably expected to suffer or continue to suffer mental deterioration or emotional deterioration, or both, to the point that the person is reasonably expected to engage in dangerous conduct.
¶ 2 Preliminarily, we address a point on which the parties agree. The circuit court's findings derive from section 1-119 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (the Code), which defined the term "[p]erson subject to involuntary admission on an inpatient basis." 405 ILCS 5/1-119 (West 2010). Prior to the entry of the court's order, the term "dangerous conduct" as used in section 1-119 was declared to be unconstitutionally vague and violative of the substantive guarantees of due process. In re Torski C., 395 Ill. App. 3d 1010, 1027 (2009). Accordingly, the first and third of the circuit court's findings with respect to the appellant being a person subject to involuntary admission are void, and only the second of those findings remains valid. Thus, we address ourselves only to the circuit court's finding that the appellant was a person subject to involuntary admission because he was a person with a mental illness who, because of that illness, was unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm.
¶ 3 The appellant brings this appeal from the order of involuntary admission. The involuntary admission was to remain in effect for 180 days from the date of the order, and, that time limit having expired, the order is no longer in effect and no actual relief can be granted. Nevertheless, we will review this otherwise moot order under the public-interest exception to the mootness doctrine because we believe that the issues presented are of a public nature and are likely to recur and that an authoritative determination would provide guidance to public officials in the future. In re Michael H., 392 Ill. App. 3d 965, 969 (2009).
¶ 4 On October 14, 2010, a petition was filed in the circuit court of Randolph County seeking to continue the involuntary admission of the appellant pursuant to section 3-813 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-813 (West 2010)). The petition alleged that the appellant was a person with a mental illness who, because of that illness, is unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm unless treated on an inpatient basis. The petition further alleges that the appellant had been transferred to the Chester Mental Health Center from Coles County after criminal charges of felony aggravated battery had been dismissed in return for civil commitment. The petition alleges that the appellant has no insight into his mental illness and is unable to function on his own in the community and that outside the structured environment, he would quickly become a danger to himself and others.
¶ 5 The petition is accompanied by the certificates of Kathryn Holt, Ph.D., a psychologist and qualified examiner, and T. Casey, M.D., a staff psychiatrist. The certificates of both examiners indicate that they had personally examined the appellant and were of the opinion that he was a person with a mental illness who, because of that illness, was unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm unless treated on an inpatient basis. Both certificates further indicate that both examiners believed the appellant was an individual subject to involuntary admission and in need of immediate hospitalization.
¶ 6 The certificate of Dr. Casey indicated that she based her opinion and her conclusion on the following facts. The appellant was a 22-year-old male who was admitted to the Chester Mental Health Center from the Coles County jail after he had been found unfit to stand trial for aggravated battery. While living in a group home, the appellant had stabbed another resident in the arm with a kitchen knife because he was angry that the other resident had been touching his property.
¶ 7 The appellant had a history of past self-injury, fire-setting, extreme physical aggression, elopement, and past and current command hallucinations. He had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, impulse control disorder, and mild to moderate mental retardation. The appellant had had numerous prior admissions to mental health centers and had exhibited aggressive behavior toward himself and toward staff and peers. He had previously stabbed himself with a pencil and attempted to electrocute himself. He had been violent with staff, necessitating restraints and medication for himself and causing injuries to staff members. He had been denied access to several groups due to inappropriate threatening statements. He had tried to set fires in the group home, had injured himself and others, and had attempted to elope multiple times. He suffered from command hallucinations telling him to kill himself and others, and delusions. The appellant also suffers from hypertension and type II diabetes.
¶ 8 The appellant had been removed from his parents' home due to allegations of abuse and neglect. He was placed in foster care when he was eight years of age. During his childhood he received psychiatric hospitalizations because of aggressive behaviors. He was eventually moved to a group home. He was in special education throughout his educational history. He has never been married, has no children, and has no history of employment.
"[The appellant's] psychiatric condition is so severe it was clear right from the beginning that the patient was probably not going to obtain fitness ever. His mental retardation, psychosis and mood instability are quite intense. Despite alter [sic] in medication, he was required to be placed on full leather restraints on 07/01/10 for unpredictable aggressive episodes. His adaptive skills are extremely poor. His cognitive deficits are quite intense. He has not demonstrated any ability to learn information, ...