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In Re Daniel K., Alleged To Be A Person Subject To Involuntary Admission v. Daniel K

March 29, 2013


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 11-MH-595 Honorable K. Patrick Yarbrough, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hudson

JUSTICE HUDSON entered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Burke and Justice McLaren concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 The State appeals the trial court's order granting respondent Daniel K.'s petition for discharge from involuntary admission under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/1-100 et seq. (West 2010)). Respondent argues that the matter is moot, as he has already been discharged. We determine that two issues are reviewable. We hold that the court erred in disallowing evidence from the State about the reasons for respondent's admission and the potential effect of his failing to take medication. We also determine that the court improperly denied the State's request to call respondent as a witness. Accordingly, we reverse.


¶ 3 On September 20, 2011, respondent was involuntarily admitted for a period not to exceed 90 days, and the court granted the State's request to administer psychotropic medication. On October 20, 2011, respondent filed a petition for discharge. The court ordered an examination and legal representation.

¶ 4 On October 25, 2011, a report was filed from Dr. William Welch, who wrote, based on a 15-minute interview and a review of respondent's medical records, that respondent was not reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future. Welch also wrote that, although respondent was mentally ill, he would be able to provide for his basic physical needs and guard himself from harm without assistance. Welch noted that respondent was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was refusing to attend treatment groups, that respondent denied any current suicide or homicide ideation, and that he received disability payments, had a home to go to, and worked part time at various businesses.

¶ 5 On November 8, 2011, another report from Welch was filed, in which he stated his opinion that respondent was not subject to involuntary admission or continued hospitalization. Under the section for respondent's symptoms, Welch reported that respondent exhibited rational thoughts and a willingness to talk freely. His behavior was not problematic and he was generally calm and quiet, but he did not plan to follow up with medication upon discharge.

¶ 6 On November 11, 2011, a hearing was held. Welch testified consistently with his reports and stated his opinion that respondent had stabilized due to his treatment and was suitable for discharge. Welch stated on cross-examination, without objection, that respondent did not plan to continue his medication when he was discharged and that taking the medication was critical to stabilizing his condition. Welch also testified that he did not have access to the petition that resulted in the admission, did not speak with respondent's treating psychiatrist or social worker, and did not know that respondent's mother, who was also his guardian, did not want respondent released and was fearful for his safety. However, Welch stated that this information would not impact his opinion, as he was evaluating respondent's current status and not what might happen in the future. Welch testified that respondent was taking haliperidol to control irrational thoughts and behavior and agreed that a person with irrational thoughts and behavior might be a danger to himself or others.

¶ 7 When Welch was asked on two occasions during cross-examination if he agreed that stopping the medication would result in a return to the behavior that caused respondent to be admitted in the first place, respondent's objections based on speculation were sustained. After hearing argument about the scope of the testimony, the court stated that it would allow testimony about respondent's medication, the symptoms it controlled, and respondent's intention not to take the medication, because Welch reached his opinion based on his interview of respondent and the information in his chart. But the court said that it would not allow speculation as to what would happen if respondent did not take his medication in the future. The court also sustained an objection, as beyond the scope, to the question of whether respondent could be placed in a less restrictive location.

¶ 8 The court determined that respondent made a prima facie case for discharge, and the State called respondent's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Howard Paul. Paul testified that he was board certified and had testified as an expert hundreds of times. He said that his specialty was in addiction medicine. The State sought to qualify Paul as an expert, and respondent objected on the basis that Paul was being called to testify as an occurrence witness, not as an expert. Other than providing notes about respondent in his medical chart, Paul had not provided a written opinion about the proceedings. The court found that Paul could testify about his contact with respondent and the opinions he had formed as a result, but that he had not been qualified as an expert in the field of psychiatry for any other purpose.

¶ 9 Paul testified about his interactions with respondent and the medications respondent was receiving, and he said that respondent did not think he was ill and would not continue treatment when discharged. However, when the State sought to elicit testimony about respondent's medical history or behavior before he was admitted, objections as to relevance were sustained on the basis that the issue before the court was his current condition. Objections as to speculation were also sustained in regard to questions about what would happen if respondent stopped taking his medication. The court stated that it was limited to looking at respondent's current condition. Another objection was sustained to questions about a less restrictive treatment alternative. When asked if relatives would help respondent if he were released, Paul began to say something about respondent's mother that was based on statements that she had made to social workers, and a hearsay objection was sustained. The State did not make any argument that a hearsay exception applied. During the course of the testimony, there were also various objections sustained based on lack of foundation or because a question called for an expert opinion.

ΒΆ 10 After Paul's testimony, the State requested to call respondent as a witness. Respondent's objection, that the State did not have a right to require him to testify, was sustained. The trial court, noting a lack of evidence that respondent was currently a danger to ...

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