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In re Christine R.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 10, 2019

In re CHRISTINE R., a Person Found Subject to Involuntary Medication,
v.
Christine R. 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. 18-MH-99 Honorable Alicia N. Washington Judge, Presiding

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

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The State filed petitions for the involuntary commitment and administration of psychotropic medication to respondent Christine R. At a hearing on the commitment petition, Christine was removed due to disruptive behavior, and her attorney waived Christine's appearance and subsequent appearance at the medication hearing. The trial court granted both petitions. Christine appealed. We reverse.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Christine R. is a 67-year-old woman with a long history of mental illness. She lived alone in a trailer in a mobile home community and received home visits from the Human Service Center, a behavioral healthcare organization. Christine also received psychiatric care at the center. After she began to act erratically, her neighbor called Christine's sister regarding her mental health and behavior toward the neighbors. The sister called the Emergency Response Service, which resulted in Christine being taken to the mental health unit at UnityPoint Proctor Hospital on April 26, 2018. She would not agree to admission so the staff filed petitions for Christine's involuntary admission and administration of psychotropic medication.

         ¶ 4 Hearings took place on the petitions on May 1, 2018. At the commitment hearing, Christine was present. As Christine walked into court, she threw a file of paperwork toward the bench and was admonished by the court: "We don't do that ***." Christine explained that she wanted to show the trial court the paperwork she had been provided. Christine asked to represent herself, and the trial court questioned her about her education, employment history, and computer usage. It denied Christine's request and informed her the public defender would represent her. Christine responded that the public defender did not know what was happening.

         ¶ 5 The hearing continued with one witness, Jayalakshmi Attaluri, Christine's treating psychiatrist, testifying. Christine disrupted the testimony. The court then explained to Christine: "[T]he amazing thing about this process is, if there's something that needs to be corrected, when it is time, when it is time, you will have that opportunity to clarify that information for the Court." As Attaluri testified to the neighbors' concerns about Christine's behavior and threats toward them, Christine interrupted and asked, "What?" and "Where is all this bullshit coming from?" The court addressed Christine, as follows:

"THE COURT: Here's what's amazing about this process.
[CHRISTINE]: Oh my God Almighty.
THE COURT: I recognize you have some concerns about the statements. We will have the opportunity to hear them. This will be the last time that I ask you to stop talking when the doctor talks, okay?"

         ¶ 6 The witness continued testifying, explaining that the police responded to Christine's trailer. Christine interjected, "And she busted in my door." The trial court stopped the hearing and the following exchange occurred.

"TRIAL COURT: This is where we're gonna have to stop. We're gonna-
[CHRISTINE]: We need for her to object.
THE COURT: No. No. At this point in time, the Court is going to direct this particular process to stop. We're going to take a recess. Then you, [Christine], are going to have the opportunity to go to in the hallway and take a break. Okay?
We're gonna give you a break.
Then you're gonna come back. If you elect to come back in, you're going to have to be quiet throughout the testimony of the doctor. It makes it very difficult-
[CHRISTINE]: Excuse me.
THE COURT: You keep raising your voice. You understand I can hear you. You have everyone in here to assist you if there's any issues. I also want to give the opportunity ...

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