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In re Angela A.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

September 5, 2013

In re: ANGELA A., a Person Found Subject to the Administration of Psychotropic Medication and Involuntary Admission, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
ANGELA A., Respondent-Appellant.

Held [*]

The trial court’s orders for respondent’s involuntary hospitalization and involuntary administration of psychotropic medication were reversed based on the State’s admission that the trial court erred in denying respondent’s motion for an independent psychological examination.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, Nos. 12-MH-610, 12-MH-645; the Hon. April Troemper, Judge, presiding.

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

John Milhiser, State's Attorney, of Springfield (Patrick Delfino, Robert J. Biderman, and James C. Majors, all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Knecht and Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

APPLETON JUSTICE

¶ 1 Following an August 2012 hearing, the trial court found respondent, Angela A., subject to involuntary hospitalization (405 ILCS 5/3-700 (West 2010)) and involuntary administration of psychotropic medication (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West 2010)). Respondent appeals, arguing (1) the trial court failed to comply with section 3-804 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Mental Health Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-804 (West 2010)) when it denied respondent's request for an independent mental-health examination; (2) the trial court failed to comply with section 3-816 of the Mental Health Code (405 ILCS 5/3-816 (West 2010)) when it failed to make adequate oral or written findings of fact and conclusions of law in its orders; and (3) the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that respondent lacked the requisite capacity to make a reasoned decision about her treatment (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1(a-5)(4)(E) (West 2010)). The State concedes error on respondent's first two grounds. We accept the State's concession and reverse the trial court's orders.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Respondent was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Springfield in March 2012 because she was experiencing psychotic episodes. She gave birth while in the hospital and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took the infant into protective custody. Respondent was discharged from the hospital in May with a prescription for Haldol. She reportedly failed to take her medication and was admitted to Memorial Medical Center in July 2012 after the police responded to her residence when she threatened to kill her roommate.

¶ 4 On July 26, 2012, a Sangamon County sheriff's deputy filed a petition for respondent's involuntary admission (Sangamon County case No. 12-MH-610). The petition alleged respondent suffered from a mental illness and (1) because of her illness, she was reasonably expected to engage in conduct placing her or another in physical harm or in the reasonable expectation of being harmed; (2) because of her illness, she was unable to provide for her basic physical needs without assistance so as to guard herself from serious harm; (3) she was refusing treatment and because of her illness, she was unable to understand her need for treatment and if untreated, she was expected to suffer mental or emotional deterioration. According to the petition, respondent was in need of immediate hospitalization for treatment and the prevention of harm. The petition was accompanied by two certificates completed by emergency room physician Dr. John Holland and McFarland Mental Health Center psychiatrist Dr. Arden D. Barnett. Both doctors opined that respondent was in need of immediate hospitalization to treat her mental illness.

¶ 5 On August 5, 2012, Dr. Aura Eberhardt, a psychiatrist at McFarland, filed a petition for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication (Sangamon County case No. 12-MH-645). Dr. Eberhardt alleged respondent refused medication to treat her mental illness, and without treatment she would continue with her paranoia and psychotic state. According to Dr. Eberhardt, respondent lacked the capacity to make a reasoned decision about her treatment. The doctor sought to administer two medications (Zyprexa and Ativan) to relieve symptoms of psychosis and agitation, respectively, and Cogentin, as needed, to relieve any associated side effects. As alternatives, the doctor would try Haldol and risperidone. According to Dr. Eberhardt, the benefits of the drugs outweigh the potential harm.

¶ 6 On August 10, 2012, the trial court and the parties convened for a hearing on both petitions. However, respondent requested a continuance for the purpose of obtaining an independent psychiatric examination. The court allowed the continuance.

¶ 7 On August 17, 2012, the parties reconvened and the trial court proceeded with a hearing on both petitions, considering the involuntary-admission petition first. The prosecutor advised the court that psychiatrist Dr. Zhihong Zhang had filed a second-opinion report based upon his examination of respondent. (Dr. Zhang's report was not admitted into evidence.) Respondent and her counsel advised the court she wished to have an independent evaluation by a doctor of her choice, rather than a doctor of the State's choice. The court asked if respondent was requesting a continuance. Without answering the court's question, respondent's counsel said: "I don't think–in good faith, Your Honor, she has a right to an independent evaluation, but I don't think she has a right to pick the physician of her choice so–." The prosecutor clarified that respondent could choose her own ...


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