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In re Daniel K.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

March 29, 2013

In re DANIEL K., Alleged to be a Person Subject to Involuntary Admission The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Daniel K., Respondent-Appellee.

Held [*]

The order granting respondent’s petition for discharge from his involuntary admission pursuant to the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code was reversed, where the trial court erred in rejecting the State’s request to call respondent as a witness and excluding evidence as to the reasons for respondent’s involuntary admission and evidence as to the consequences of his anticipated refusal to continue taking his medication after being discharged.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, No. 11-MH-595; the Hon. K. Patrick Yarbrough, Judge, presiding.

Joseph P. Bruscato, State's Attorney, of Rockford (Lawrence M. Bauer and Sally A. Swiss, both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

Veronique Baker and Teresa L. Berge, both of Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, of Rockford, for appellee.

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

OPINION

HUDSON JUSTIC

¶ 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.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 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 haloperidol to control irrational thoughts and behavior and agreed that a person with irrational thoughts and behavior might be a danger to himself or others.

ΒΆ 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 ...


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