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In re Amanda H.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

April 4, 2017

In re Amanda H.
AMANDA H., Respondent-Appellant. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois Circuit No. 15-MH-3, Honorable Ronald J. Gerts, Judge, Presiding.

          Carter, Justice concurred with the judgment and opinion. Justice Schmidt dissented, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 The respondent, Amanda H., appeals orders of the circuit court of Kankakee County, committing her involuntarily to a hospital for inpatient medical treatment and ordering the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. Although those orders have expired, the respondent claims that the issues raised by this appeal fall within various exceptions to the mootness doctrine.

         ¶ 2 On the merits, the respondent argues that the circuit court's involuntary commitment order should be reversed and vacated because (1) the police officers who transported the respondent to the hospital were not identified as witnesses in the petition for involuntary admission, as required by section 3-606 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-606 (West 2014)), (2) the State neither filed a written predisposition report including information on the appropriateness and availability of alternative treatment settings nor presented evidence suggesting that involuntary commitment was the least restrictive available treatment for the respondent, in violation of section 3-810 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-810 (West 2014)), (3) the trial court failed to consider alternative available treatment settings before committing the respondent, in violation of section 3-811 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-811 (West 2014)), (4) the trial court committed the respondent based on an incorrect and outdated statutory standard, and (5) the State failed to prove that the respondent was subject to involuntary commitment by clear and convincing evidence.

         ¶ 3 The respondent also argues that the circuit court's involuntary medication order should be reversed and vacated because the involuntary commitment order was invalid. In the alternative, the respondent argues that the State failed to present any evidence supporting certain statutory prerequisites to an involuntary medication order under section 2-107.1 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107.1 (West 2014)).

         ¶ 4 FACTS

         ¶ 5 On January 14, 2015, the State filed a petition for the involuntary admission of the respondent to the Riverside Medical Center (Riverside) for mental health treatment pursuant to the Code. The petition was completed and signed by the respondent's father, who lived with the respondent at the time together with the respondent's brother, Matthew. The petition stated that the respondent (1) suffered from a mental illness, (2) had been yelling and threatening to kill herself at home, and (3) was in need of immediate hospitalization to prevent her from harming herself or others. The petition indicated that the respondent was not detained, taken into custody, or transported to Riverside by a peace officer.

         ¶ 6 Attached to the petition were written statements prepared Dr. David Teague and Dr. Mary Belford, psychiatrists at Riverside who treated the claimant upon her admission. In his statement, Dr. Teague noted that the respondent was brought to the emergency room by her family members, who reported that the respondent had made suicidal statements and were concerned that the respondent posed a risk to herself. Dr. Teague opined that the respondent was "[a] person with mental illness who, because of *** her illness [was] reasonably expected, unless treated on an inpatient basis, to engage in conduct placing [her] or another in physical harm or in reasonable expectation of being physically harmed." He noted that the respondent was "very guarded" while in the emergency room, and she believed that God was going to take her life. He concluded that the respondent was in need of involuntary inpatient admission and immediate hospitalization to prevent her from harming herself or others. In her written statement, Dr. Belford noted that the respondent was "paranoid and labile" and was "voic[ing] suicidal ideation." Dr. Belford agreed with Dr. Teague's diagnosis and recommendation of involuntary hospitalization and treatment. Dr. Belford stated that, due to her mental illness, the claimant was "unable to understand *** her need for treatment" and "unable to provide for *** her basic physical needs so as to guard *** herself from serious harm, without the assistance of family or others, unless treated on an inpatient basis."

         ¶ 7 On January 16, 2015, the State filed a petition for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medications. The petition alleged that the respondent lacked the ability to give informed consent to psychotropic medication and that, because of her mental illness, the respondent was exhibiting "deterioration of the ability to function, suffering, or threatening behavior." The petition also alleged that "the benefits of [psychotropic medications] clearly outweigh[ed] the harm, " that the respondent "lack[ed] the capacity to make a reasoned decision about the treatment, " and that "other, less restrictive services were explored and found inappropriate." On January 27, 2016, the circuit court held hearings on both of the State's petitions.

         ¶ 8 During the involuntary admission hearing, the respondent's brother, Matthew, testified for the State. Matthew said that he had been living with the respondent at their father's home for the preceding two and one-half years. Although the respondent had previously worked as a nurse, Matthew noted that the respondent was unemployed during the time they lived together. During that time, the respondent talked to herself. According to Matthew, the respondent had never harmed herself or Matthew. However, she occasionally grabbed or struck Matthew when he tried to calm her down or help her stop pacing, talking fast, or screaming. Matthew testified that, during the time that they lived together, the respondent had been getting progressively worse. At some point, the respondent had a restraining order taken out against her by a neighbor, and she also had a no-contact order from the church she had attended.

         ¶ 9 Matthew testified that, approximately two days before the respondent was hospitalized, the respondent was in the shower at approximately 3:30 a.m. yelling and saying things that scared Matthew. On the morning of January 13, 2015, (the day the respondent was hospitalized), the respondent was going in and out of the bathroom talking to herself and said she was going to kill herself. Matthew called his father, who went to the police station. Shortly thereafter, paramedics and police arrived at the house. When asked how the respondent went to the hospital, Matthew responded, "[t]hey had paramedics and cops come, and she didn't want to go and they had to force her." The respondent interjected comments during Matthew's testimony at various times.

         ¶ 10 Dr. Belford also testified for the State. Dr. Belford said that she was called to the emergency room at Riverside on January 13, 2015, after the respondent had been evaluated by the mental health technicians. Dr. Belford met with the respondent the following morning. According to Dr. Belford, the respondent "escalated very quickly" and was religiously preoccupied. The respondent told Dr. Belford that she received special messages from God. The emergency room report noted that the respondent had spoken of killing herself and said that God was going to kill her. The respondent told Dr. Belford that she had seen a Christian counselor once but had not liked the interaction and never returned. The respondent did not disclose any other prior mental health treatment. She was never previously hospitalized for mental illness. The respondent told Dr. Belford that she felt she had been physically abused by the police because the police had handcuffed her and brought her to the emergency room for fear that she was going to harm herself.

         ¶ 11 Dr. Belford testified that the respondent refused to acknowledge the possibility that she had a mental health diagnosis or needed mental health treatment. When Dr. Belford attempted to discuss the symptoms that brought the respondent to the emergency room, the respondent became "pressured in her speech" and her thoughts became disorganized. The respondent initially refused to have blood drawn because she believed it would be used to manipulate her to take medication. According to Dr. Belford, the respondent "escalated" while she was in the mental health unit. On one occasion, the respondent was given extra medication against her will when she became agitated and loud during a family visit because it was feared that the respondent was going to "potentially get physically aggressive." The staff gave the respondent an intermuscular injection of Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication, which calmed her down.

         ¶ 12 Dr. Belford diagnosed the respondent with bipolar disorder, manic with psychosis. Dr. Belford stated that bipolar disorder usually causes extended periods of abnormal moods, including both depression and mania. Mania consists of irritability or euphoria and can include psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, grandiosity, racing thoughts, and difficulty concentrating. Mania can also involve poor sleep, poor hygiene, and an inability to care for oneself. It can result in suicide or aggressive homicidal outbursts. According to Dr. Belford, religious preoccupation, while not a mental disease in itself, can be a symptom of bipolar disorder, manic.

         ¶ 13 Dr. Belford testified that, since January 13, 2015, the respondent had been calmer, it took longer for her to "escalate, " and she was better able to carry on a conversation. However, Dr. Belford noted that the respondent still refused to acknowledge the possibility that she had a mental illness and refused to consider taking medication. Moreover, the respondent continued to talk to herself and hallucinate, and she was still engaging in hyper-religious and paranoid behaviors. For example, the respondent believed that she was in a prison and that the staff was "against her" and trying to poison her. Dr. Belford conducted psychological testing on the respondent which indicated that she was "faking being healthy."

         ¶ 14 Dr. Belford opined that, if the respondent's psychosis was not treated, it would "continue to cause increased escalation." She noted that the respondent already had two restraining orders issued against her and that the respondent believed God was going to kill her or she was going to kill herself. Although Dr. Belford had never personally observed the respondent harm herself or another person, she opined that the respondent would either kill herself or harm someone else if her psychosis was not treated.

         ¶ 15 Dr. Belford asked the court to commit the respondent to Riverside for up to 90 days. When asked whether there was any less restrictive alternative, Dr. Belford responded, "[g]iven the fact she's refusing to cooperate with any treatment whatsoever I don't feel she would be cooperative in any outpatient setting."

         ¶ 16 The State did not submit a written predisposition report outlining a treatment plan and describing the availability and appropriateness of alternative treatment settings, as required by section 3-810 of the Code (405 ILCS 5/3-810 (West 2014)). The respondent's counsel did not object to the State's failure to submit a predisposition report or argue at trial that the information required by section 3-810 had not been adequately presented to the court.

         ¶ 17 The respondent testified on her own behalf. She stated that she was 29 years old and had lived with her father and brother for one and one-half years in Bourbonnais. After graduating from Wilmington High School and Joliet Junior College, the respondent had several jobs, including dancing and teaching dance. She subsequently graduated from Loyola University with a nursing degree and worked a as nurse at two hospitals. Her nursing courses included a semester of mental health training. She testified that she had a strong faith in God, felt God's involvement in her life, and prayed daily. However, she acknowledged that spiritual matters can be "confusing." She acknowledged being "stressed" about living at home and being unemployed. Although the respondent admitted that she may have ...

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