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In re Kurtis C.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

April 7, 2015

In re KURTIS C., a Person Found Subject to Involuntary Medication
v.
Kurtis C., Respondent-Appellant) (The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

Page 1161

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. Circuit No. 13-MH-98. The Honorable Lisa Y. Wilson, Judge, Presiding.

Laurel Spahn, of Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, of Hines, for appellant.

Jerry Brady, State's Attorney, of Peoria (Gary F. Gnidovec (argued), of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Schmidt specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

LYTTON, JUSTICE.

Page 1162

[¶1] Respondent Kurtis C. voluntarily admitted himself to a hospital for mental health treatment. The admitting physician filed a petition for administration of psychotropic medications. Prior to a hearing on the petition, respondent indicated his desire to waive counsel and represent himself. After hearing testimony from respondent's treating physician, the court denied respondent's request to proceed pro se. Following a hearing, the court found the petition proven by clear and convincing evidence and entered an order authorizing medical personnel to administer to respondent the medications set forth in the petition. On appeal, respondent argues that (1) the trial court improperly denied his request to waive counsel, (2) the allegations set forth in the petition were inadequate, (3) he was denied effective assistance of counsel, and (4) the petition was not proved by clear and convincing evidence. We reverse, holding that the trial court improperly denied respondent his right to waive counsel.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] In July 2013, respondent Kurtis C. voluntarily admitted himself to Unity Point Health Methodist Medical Center (Methodist Medical Center) in Peoria. The same day, respondent's admitting physician, Dr. Thornton, filed a petition for administration of psychotropic medications. The petition alleged that respondent suffered from mental illness and that the administration of psychotropic medication was necessary for the following reasons: " Patient was admitted due to bizarre behavior and delusions. He is currently psychotic and is refusing to take medications. He is expressing extreme paranoia." The petition further alleged that respondent " lacks capacity to give informed consent to: psychotropic medication and, *** [t]he petition seeks authorization for testing and other procedures, that said testing and procedures are essential for the safe and effective administration of treatment." The petition listed 13 psychotropic medications that could potentially be administered to respondent.

[¶4] On the date set for the hearing on the petition, respondent appeared in court with a court-appointed attorney. Before the hearing began, respondent's attorney notified the court that respondent told him he " wishes to proceed pro se and represent himself." The court never addressed respondent nor questioned him about his request to proceed pro se. Instead, the court gave the State an opportunity to respond. The prosecutor stated that she wanted to call respondent's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Singh, to testify regarding respondent's request.

[¶5] Dr. Singh testified that he had seen respondent for two days, the day of the hearing and the previous day. Dr. Singh diagnosed respondent with schizophrenia based on his " disorganized thought processes" and lack of " meaningful conversation." Dr. Singh testified that respondent did not have the capacity to understand what was going on in court because " [h]e is totally not in touch with reality." Dr. Singh testified that respondent " is not able to give informed consent, which means he does not understand what is going on." Based on Dr. Singh's testimony, the court found that respondent was not competent to represent himself and ordered respondent's

Page 1163

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