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In re Tara S.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

August 3, 2017

In re TARA S.,
Tara S., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 16-MH-128 Honorable Suzanne L. Patton, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justice Wright concurred in the judgment.


          O'BRIEN JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Respondent, Tara S., appeals from the circuit court's orders for involuntary admission and administration of psychotropic medication. Respondent argues that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel and this issue is subject to review under the capable of repetition yet avoiding review exception to the mootness doctrine. We reverse the court's orders for involuntary admission to a mental health facility and involuntary administration of psychotropic medication.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On June 16, 2016, the State filed a petition for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to respondent. The petition was a prepared form which indicated that respondent had a mental illness and lacked the capacity to give an informed consent to psychotropic medication. The second page of the petition contained the proposed psychotropic medication treatment, length of the treatment plan, required pretreatment medical testing, and treatment alternatives. The petition was signed by psychiatrist Andrew Lancia.

         ¶ 4 On June 17, 2016, the court appointed counsel to represent respondent. On the same date, the State filed a petition for the involuntary admission of respondent to a mental health facility. The petition alleged that respondent had a history of psychiatric hospitalizations related to her bipolar diagnosis and noncompliance with treatment. Respondent exhibited bouts of mania and psychosis. Respondent told a hospital employee that she had been physically and sexually assaulted in the past six months. Respondent had no place to live, no income, and no insight into her illness.

         ¶ 5 In a contemporaneously filed inpatient certificate, Lancia attested that he had personally examined respondent. Lancia opined that respondent was a person with mental illness whom he reasonably expected to engage in harmful conduct. Respondent refused treatment and was unable to understand her need for treatment. Respondent's mental disorder presented with episodes of mania, paranoia, and respondent's belief that she had been subject to multiple incidents of sexual assault in the past six months. Lancia opined that respondent was vulnerable to such assaults because of her manic state.

         ¶ 6 On June 21, 2016, the court held a hearing on the State's petitions. Psychiatrist Marika Wrzosek testified that she was assigned to the case one day before the hearing. Wrzosek said that she had reviewed respondent's medical records but indicated that she had not personally examined respondent. At the time of her admission, respondent was paranoid, talked to herself, believed that her mother was following her, and exhibited disorganized speech that frequently mentioned sexual assault. While in the psychiatric unit of the hospital, respondent exhibited hypersexualized behavior and reported feeling excess stress. Respondent had been mentally ill for nearly 10 years and had two prior hospitalizations since 2013. Respondent had no understanding of her mental illness. Respondent refused to take the prescribed medication and stated that she did not have a mental illness. Wrzosek said respondent had the working diagnosis of schizoaffective bipolar type. Wrzosek opined that respondent's provocative behavior put her at risk for a recurrence of sexual assault. Wrzosek thought that if respondent were released, she risked being victimized by others due to her disorganized thoughts and hypersexualized behavior. Wrzosek said that with treatment, respondent's disorder could be stabilized and she could be released to continue her independent living.

         ¶ 7 On cross-examination, Wrzosek said that her main concern for harm was respondent's penchant to engage in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners. Wrzosek also feared that respondent's paranoia about her family members prevented her from having the necessary support.

         ¶ 8 Respondent testified that she was homeless. Prior to her hospital admission, she stayed with a man named "Bill." Bill asked respondent to leave after respondent left the door open to Bill's house and his dog ran out. On June 13, 2016, respondent voluntarily sought admission to the hospital. Respondent said that she was "stressed out" and had no place to live. Respondent also explained that she needed to gather evidence in order to procure an order of protection against a woman that she thought was following her. Respondent said that she was "tired of being abused." She previously took the medications risperidone and lithium. Respondent thought that she did not need medication but acknowledged that she needed counseling.

         ¶ 9 The court found that respondent suffered from schizo affective disorder, she was the victim of sexual abuse and sexual assault, her testimony exhibited disorganized thoughts and paranoia, and respondent's hypersexualized activities subjected her to potential harm. The court ordered respondent to be placed in a restrictive environment for up to 90 days for treatment. The court then proceeded to a hearing on the State's petition for involuntary treatment.

         ¶ 10 Wrzosek testified that respondent had previously taken psychotropic medications risperidone and lithium. Based on Wrzosek's review of respondent's medical chart, these medications had restored respondent's functioning. Wrzosek proposed a list of medications to stabilize respondent's mood and decrease her paranoia and delusions. The list included risperidone and lithium. Wrzosek opined that the benefits of the proposed treatment outweighed the potential side effects and noted that there were no less restrictive options available. Wrzosek asked the court to order the medications to be administered for a period of up to 90 days.

         ¶ 11 Respondent testified that she was familiar with some of the psychotropic medications proposed by Wrzosek. Respondent previously received treatment at the Human Resource Center. However, in January 2015, the psychiatrist at the center discontinued respondent's treatment. Respondent recalled that the treatment "slowed [her] down." After the psychiatrist discontinued respondent's psychotropic medication, he prescribed an antidepressant. Respondent asserted that she only needed pain medication and that she ...

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