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NCJ Number: 52191 Find in a Library
Title: PROTECTING THE ALLEGED MENTALLY ILL IN THE COURTROOM
Journal: POPULAR GOVERNMENT  Volume:42  Issue:2  Dated:(FALL 1976)  Pages:26-30
Author(s): V A HIDAY
Corporate Author: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government
United States of America
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5381
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A 1973 NORTH CAROLINA LAW GOVERNING THE INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT OF PERSONS TO MENTAL HOSPITALS IS EXPLAINED, AND COMMITMENT HEARINGS ARE EXAMINED IN ONE URBAN COUNTY.
Abstract: A 1973 NORTH CAROLINA LAW, AMENDED IN 1974, AIMS AT ASSURING DUE PROCESS IN MENTAL COMMITMENT PROCEDURE BY THE FOLLOWING: (1) LIMITING COMMITMENT TO THE MENTALLY ILL OR INEBRIATE WHO ARE IMMINENTLY DANGEROUS TO THEMSELVES OR OTHERS; (2) REQUIRING FOUR SEPARATE JUDGMENTS OF IMMINENT DANGER DUE TO MENTAL ILLNESS OR INEBRIETY BEFORE COMMITMENT; (3) PROVIDING COUNSEL FOR THE INDIGENT; (4) ESTABLISHING TIME LIMITATIONS FOR EACH JUDGMENT, FOR LENGTH OF COMMITMENT, AND FOR LATER RECOMMITMENTS; AND (5) PERMITTING APPEALS FROM THE DISTRICT COURT'S RULING. FOR THE VIOLENT PERSON REQUIRING RESTRAINT, MAGISTRATE MAY SEND THE RESPONDENT DIRECTLY TO A TREATMENT FACILITY WITHOUT PRIOR EXAMINATION BY A PHYSICIAN. COURT JUDGMENTS ARE TO BE BASED ON CLEAR, COGENT, CONVINCING (CCC) EVIDENCE OF IMMINENT DANGER TO SELF AND OTHERS. OF 132 CASES CONSIDERED FOR ONE URBAN COUNTY IN NORTH CAROLINA, 70 WENT TO A COURT HEARING. THROUGH NONPARTICIPANT OBSERVATION AND COURT RECORDS, THE COURT'S INDEPENDENCE IN DECISIONMAKING IN LIGHT OF PSYCHIATRIC OPINION IS EXAMINED. TWO MEASURES WERE DEEMED TO INDICATE INDEPENDENCE: HEARINGS LASTING LONGER THAN 5 MINUTES; AND COURT AGREEMENT WITH PSYCHIATRIC OPINION LESS THAN 80 PERCENT OVERALL. BY BOTH MEASURES COURT INDEPENDENCE WAS SHOWN IN THE CASES STUDIED. ALTHOUGH COURT RECORDS SHOW THAT FEWER PERSONS ARE BEING INVOLUNTARILY COMMITTED TO MENTAL HOSPITALS AGAINST THEIR WILL SINCE THE PASSING OF THE 1973 STATUTE AND COURT OFFICIALS ARE ACTING INDEPENDENTLY OF PSYCHIATRIC OPINION, IT WAS OBSERVED THAT COMMITMENT AND DEFERENCE TO PSYCHIATRIC OPINION DO STILL OCCUR WITHOUT CCC EVIDENCE OF IMMINENT DANGEROUSNESS TO SELF OR OTHERS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE DEFERENCE OF COUNSEL AND JUDGE STEMS FROM THE BELIEF THAT TREATMENT CAN ONLY HELP AND NOT HURT A PATIENT. IT IS CAUTIONED THAT COMMITMENT TO A MENTAL HOSPITAL, CAN ALSO MEAN AN INDEFINITE CONFINEMENT IN AN ATMOSPHERE THAT CAN DESTROY AS WELL AS REPAIR MENTAL PROCESSES. DATA FROM THE STUDY ARE PROVIDED. REFERENCES ARE FOOTNOTED (RCB)
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Laws and Statutes; Mental disorders; North Carolina; Research
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=52191

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