In re Rita P., 2014 IL 115798


Appellate citation: 2013 IL App (1st) 112837.


      JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

            The Evanston woman who is the respondent here was hospitalized at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center in 2011. A psychiatrist there filed a petition seeking a court order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. He made a diagnosis of “schizophrenia paranoid type” and requested authorization to administer Risperidone for up to 90 days. The respondent was represented by counsel at the hearing on the petition, at which she testified, as did her 24-year-old son, who had lived with her. The son testified as to how she conducted conversations with voices she heard in her head. The circuit court of Cook County granted the petition for the involuntary administrative of medication, and the respondent appealed, complaining that the circuit court had failed to comply with the Mental Health Code’s requirement that findings of fact be made on the record. The appellate court found that this statutory commandment was mandatory and it reversed. The State appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

            On appeal, the State conceded that the statutory command had not been fully complied with. That brought the question to the point at which it had to be determined whether the statute was mandatory or directory. If a provision is directory, failure to comply does not necessarily call for reversal.

            In this decision, the supreme court held that the statute was directory only. This is what the law presumes, and although the presumption may be overcome, that did not occur here. The statute contains no specific consequence for noncompliance.

            At the hearing, the respondent could have requested specific findings of fact or other clarification so that the complained-of defect could have been cured at that time, but she did not do so. In this appeal, the respondent has not challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court’s treatment order. Neither did the respondent claim that the procedural safeguards which were utilized in her case were compromised by reason of the fact that the court expressed only its legal conclusion that the evidence overwhelmingly supported the petition.

            Although involuntary medication orders such as this are good for only 90 days and the particular order in question has long since expired, the supreme court addressed the merits under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine.

            The appellate court erred in finding the statutory provision at issue to be mandatory rather than directory and in reversing on that basis. The circuit court’s order was upheld and the appellate court was reversed.