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In re Latoya C.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

July 26, 2013

In re LATOYA C., Alleged to be a Person Subject to Involuntary Treatment (The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
Latoya C., Respondent-Appellant)


An order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to respondent was reversed on appeal due to the trial court’s failure to comply with section 3-816(a) of the Mental Health Code by making a written statement in the record of its findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 12-COMH-1064; the Hon. Paul A. Karkula, Judge, presiding.

Veronique Baker, of Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, of Chicago, and Andreas Liewald and Laurel Spahn, both of Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, of Hines, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg and Peter Maltese, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Panel JUSTICE TAYLOR delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice McBride and Justice Palmer concurred in the judgment and opinion.



¶ 1 Following a hearing on April 17, 2012, the circuit court entered an order authorizing the administration of involuntary psychotropic medication to respondent, Latoya C., for 90 days. On appeal, respondent contends that the order should be reversed because the trial court failed to make either oral or written findings of fact, as required by section 3-816(a) of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-816(a) (West 2012)); the State failed to prove that she was provided information about alternative treatment options, as required by section 2-102(a-5) of the Code (405 ILCS 5/2-102(a-5) (West 2012)); and the State failed to establish each element of the involuntary medication statute (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1(a-5) (West 2012)). Respondent also contends that this appeal falls within three recognized exceptions to the mootness doctrine. We reverse.

¶ 2 On March 30, 2012, 24-year-old respondent was admitted to a mental health facility after an apparent dispute with her cousin over money. On April 12, 2012, one of her treating physicians, Dr. Vesna Pirec, filed a petition requesting a court order authorizing the administration of involuntary treatment, specifically, the administration of an antipsychotic medication known as haloperidol (Haldol) for up to 90 days.

¶ 3 At the hearing on the petition, three witnesses testified. Latasha C., respondent's sister, testified that respondent was diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar in 2005. They lived together for a time prior to respondent's admission to the hospital in March 2012. During the time they lived together, respondent told her that the television and radio were talking to her. When respondent started taking medication, i.e., Zyprexa, she was no longer delusional. However, she discontinued taking the medication, and, in October 2011, respondent and their mother got into an argument, which resulted in respondent being admitted to the hospital. She was released the following night and went to a shelter. On February 9, 2012, respondent had a baby and subsequently moved in with her cousin. When respondent was in the final stages of her pregnancy, she became increasingly irritable and would yell at her family. She was not taking her medication at that time.

¶ 4 Dr. Vesna Pirec, a psychiatrist, testified that she treated respondent in October 2011 for five days, but did not prescribe psychotropic medication for her at that time. On April 2, 2012, she began treating respondent during her most recent hospitalization on March 30, 2012. Pirec diagnosed respondent with schizoaffective disorder, and testified that she was symptomatic at the time of the hearing. Respondent told Pirec that she was a celebrity, Obama came to the hospital, and she had an aura around her. Respondent also acted provocatively in the hospital and was paranoid. Pirec was concerned that respondent's symptoms would affect her ability to care for her child. Pirec administered two doses of Haldol to respondent on or about April 4, 2012. However, after taking the two doses, respondent refused to take more medication. Pirec then sought authority to involuntarily medicate respondent, primarily with Haldol, for 90 days. Pirec wanted to use Haldol to treat respondent's psychosis, and she believed the benefits of the drug would outweigh the risk of harm for respondent. Alternatively, Pirec testified that she would seek to treat respondent with other medications. Although respondent told Pirec that she did not want any medication, Pirec believed that respondent lacked an understanding of her symptoms.

¶ 5 Respondent testified that immediately before she was admitted to the hospital she was living with her cousin and supporting herself with social security. She did not make any physical threats to harm herself or anyone else, and her most recent admission to the hospital in March occurred because she had a dispute with her cousin over money. During her time in the hospital, she took four doses of Haldol, but was unsure if she received any benefits from the medication. The side effects from the medication included dizziness, drowsiness, an increase in appetite, and blurred vision. Although respondent did not have a problem with blurred vision prior to taking Haldol, the problem persisted after she stopped taking the medication. Respondent started seeing Dr. Pirec after she refused to take Haldol. She did not feel that Pirec knew her well because Pirec only saw her for about five minutes per day. At the time of trial, respondent indicated that she would not consent to taking medication from Pirec because taking Haldol was the hospital's choice, and Pirec never offered her any other types of medication. She noted that hospital personnel kept telling her that the drug worked, but it did not.

¶ 6 Following closing arguments, the trial court announced its decision granting the petition. In doing so, the court stated, "[t]he doctor's testimony as an expert witness was extremely credible; therefore, causing me to certainly see that the State has met their burden by clear and convincing evidence." The court also entered a written order stating, in part, that "[t]he recipient has a serious mental illness/developmental disability" and "[t]he recipient exhibits deterioration of his/her ability to function, suffering or threatening or disruptive behavior." This appeal followed.

ΒΆ 7 There is no dispute that the case underlying the instant appeal is moot, as the circuit court's 90-day involuntary medication order expired on July 16, 2012. However, respondent contends that her appeal falls within several recognized exceptions to the mootness doctrine. In particular, respondent argues that three exceptions apply: the collateral consequences exception, ...

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