In re BENNY M.
Benny M., Appellee. The People of the State of Illinois, Appellant,
JUSTICE KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 In this case, the trial court permitted the respondent to
remain shackled during a hearing on the State's petition
seeking to administer psychotropic medication involuntarily.
The trial court granted the State's petition. The
appellate court reversed the trial court's judgment,
holding that the trial court erred in allowing respondent to
be physically restrained during the hearing. For the
following reasons, we reverse the appellate court's
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 After being found unfit to stand trial on a charge of
domestic battery against his mother, the respondent, Benny
M., was admitted involuntarily to the Elgin Mental Health
Center. Respondent was medicated involuntarily and later
found fit to stand trial. Respondent was transferred to the
jail, stopped taking his psychotropic medication, and was
again found unfit to stand trial. Respondent was then
transferred back to the Elgin Mental Health Center, and the
State filed the petition at issue in this case seeking to
administer psychotropic medication involuntarily.
4 A hearing was held in Kane County circuit court on the
petition on two separate days. On the first day, respondent
was physically restrained while being transported, but the
shackles were removed before he entered the courtroom. Dr.
Donna Luchetta testified that she was a treating psychiatrist
at the Elgin Mental Health Center and diagnosed respondent
with schizoaffective disorder. Respondent suffered from
several symptoms, including delusions that he did not have a
mental illness and a belief that he did not need medication.
Respondent also experienced severe mood swings with
depressive periods followed by "elevated" periods
when he would attempt to grab and kiss female interns.
5 Dr. Luchetta testified that respondent's condition and
ability to function deteriorated when he did not take his
medication. She noted that an order to treat respondent
involuntarily expired the previous day and respondent was
refusing medication. Following Dr. Luchetta's direct
examination, the hearing was continued for two weeks.
6 When the hearing resumed, respondent was physically
restrained, and his attorney asked for the shackles to be
removed. The trial court inquired whether the shackles were
necessary for security. The security officer stated that
respondent was "listed as high elopement risk" and
submitted a "patient transport checklist" to the
court. The checklist was not admitted into evidence and is
not included in the record on appeal. In response to the
trial court's inquiry, respondent's attorney stated
she had not reviewed the document. Respondent then stated,
"I just want to say something. High risk case for
elopement, where am I going to go? I'm trapped. *** I
said I wanted to be here, and I was willing to even be
present in this crap. This is kind of interesting. I mean I
can laugh about it, too. I have a sense of humor."
trial court then stated, "I will leave him in custody in
the shape he is in now. The request is denied."
7 Respondent's attorney asked if respondent's right
hand could be released to take notes and communicate with her
during the hearing. Respondent interjected, "Do you
think I am going to take the pen or something and try to stab
someone with it?" The trial court stated,
"There's obviously got to be a balance of whatever
security feels is necessary and his ability to participate.
Do you feel that he is unable to participate in the court
proceedings *** with his hands restrained?"
Respondent's counsel replied that respondent was unable
to participate with his right hand restrained. When the trial
court asked respondent if he was right-handed, respondent
stated he used both hands and asserted,
"I would try to use my left hand as well because I'm
not saying most or everyone, but people tend to try different
things, have to learn how to write with both. *** If one hand
is hurting or whatever, or for some reason, like if someone
loses their hand *** through amputation, they may be forced
to use their left hand."
8 At that point, the trial court stated, "If there is
need to take notes, I will consider your request."
Respondent replied, "I'm speaking, which is even
better." The trial court asked respondent's attorney
to begin her cross-examination of Dr. Luchetta. When
respondent continued to speak, the trial court urged him to
listen to his attorney and stated, "If there is a need
for you to be writing down some notes or things of that
nature, I will consider it at that time. I'm trying to do
the best to balance both the security information given to me
and your ability to participate."
9 During cross-examination, Dr. Luchetta testified that
respondent had refused to take his medication since the last
involuntary treatment order expired 15 days prior and his
condition was deteriorating. Respondent interrupted
occasionally and commented on Dr. Luchetta's testimony.
The trial court told respondent that his attorney was there
to represent him and admonished respondent several times that
he would be removed from the courtroom if he kept
10 During his own testimony, respondent asserted that he had
not been taking his medication because he did not have a
mental illness. Respondent commented about the shackles,
stating they were "very restrictive." When the
judge told respondent he could step down from the witness
stand, respondent stated, "If I am still able to walk. I
just got up."
11 In its closing argument, the State observed that
respondent's condition had deteriorated since the
original hearing date two weeks earlier. The State noted that
respondent was able to sit still without interrupting at the
first hearing date, but he interrupted repeatedly when the
hearing resumed following the continuance. When the State
referred to respondent kissing an intern on the cheek without
her consent, respondent interrupted the State's argument.
The trial court advised respondent that he would be removed
from the courtroom the next time he interrupted. The
following exchange then occurred:
"[RESPONDENT]: It's crazy.
THE COURT: I will ask him to leave now, please.
[RESPONDENT'S ATTORNEY]: Judge, just for the record,
he's been complaining about the shackles the whole
THE COURT: I have not heard that.
[RESPONDENT'S ATTORNEY]: He's been complaining to me.
THE COURT: I have heard him complain about the language
that's being used to describe people. I have heard him
interrupt and criticize or comment on what Dr. Luchetta has
testified to. I have not heard that. I have heard ...