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In re Jessica H.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

September 17, 2014

In re: JESSICA H., a Person Found Subject to Involuntary Admission, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINIOS, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
JESSICA H., Respondent-Appellant

Page 249

Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County. No. 13MH217. Honorable Steven H. Nardulli, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

Respondent's third consecutive involuntary commitment was vacated by the appellate court, notwithstanding the fact that her appeal was moot, since the " public interest" exception to the mootness doctrine applied, and the record showed that respondent was denied effective assistance of counsel when her counsel failed to discover that the recommitment order was untimely to the extent that it was filed 8 days after the previous order expired and she was prejudiced by being detained for 8 days without a valid order, and furthermore, the order was for 180 days, rather than 90 days, and respondent lost the benefit of more frequent assessments of her condition in light of the requirement that she be detained in the least-restrictive facility available and able to meet her needs. Decision Under Review Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, No. 13-MH

Veronique Baker, of Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, of Chicago, and Laurel Spahn, of Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, of Hines, for Appellant.

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

Justice HOLDER WHITE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pope and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 250

HOLDER WHITE, J.

[¶1] In September 2012, the trial court found respondent, Jessica H., subject to involuntary commitment, committing her for 90 days. In December 2012, respondent was recommitted pursuant to an order expiring on March 21, 2013. On March 29, 2013, a third recommitment petition was filed. Following a hearing, the court granted the petition, committing respondent for 180 days.

[¶2] Respondent appeals, arguing that although her claim is moot, it fits within two recognized exceptions to the mootness doctrine. On the merits, she argues this court should reverse the trial court's recommitment order because the recommitment petition was untimely and because respondent received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel's failure to object to the untimely petition. The State concedes two recognized exceptions to the mootness doctrine apply and concedes respondent received ineffective assistance of counsel. We conclude the " public interest" exception applies to respondent's claim and agree respondent received ineffective assistance of counsel at the hearing. We vacate the trial court's order.

[¶3] I. BACKGROUND

[¶4] A. Previous Orders

[¶5] Respondent was first admitted to McFarland Health Center (McFarland) on September 28, 2012, following an initial commitment hearing on September 27, 2012. Respondent, then 30 years old, had previously been staying at El Paso Nursing Home. The trial court ordered respondent hospitalized for a period not to exceed 90 days, or until December 27, 2012. Before the December order expired, respondent filed a petition for discharge in Sangamon County. On October 26, 2012, the court denied this petition, leaving the previous commitment order in effect. On December 21, 2012, following a hearing, the trial court found respondent was subject to continued commitment at McFarland. This order remained in effect for 90 days, or until March 21, 2013.

[¶6] B. Recommitment Petition

[¶7] On March 29, 2013, staff at McFarland filed a petition for involuntary admission and an individual treatment plan, pursuant to sections 3-601 and 3-813 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-601, 3-813 (West 2012)). The petition asserted respondent was a person with a mental illness in need of immediate hospitalization, as she had no insight into her mental illness or need for medication, continued to experience psychosis, was unable to care for herself, and posed a threat to herself and others due to her distorted view of reality. Proof of service was filed with the petition, indicating notice was sent to ...


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