Skip to Main Content

Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Supreme Court Approves New Rule Regarding Use of Restraints in Mental Health and Disability Cases


March 26, 2019

Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and the Illinois Supreme Court announced on March 21 the approval of Supreme Court Rule 296, which requires that trial courts not use restraints on individuals involved in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code proceedings unless the court conducts a separate hearing on the record as to the necessity for restraints. The new rule is effective immediately.

Supreme Court Rule 296 is available on the Court website here.

Rule 296, proposed by the 24-member Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning, was adopted to ensure that a dignified judicial process is maintained for the respectful treatment of persons in mental health cases who are subjects of the court proceedings.

“The Illinois Supreme Court has long recognized that the routine imposition of restraints is impermissible for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that it demeans both the individual who is restrained and the judicial process. These concerns are no less compelling in mental health and disability cases than they are in criminal and juvenile delinquency cases,” Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said. “The Supreme Court is therefore very grateful to Justice Kathryn Zenoff and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Justice and Mental Health Planning, which she chairs, for their outstanding work in crafting a rule that will help insure that those who are subject to involuntary treatment or admission to a mental health facility will be spared the added trauma and indignity of shackling or other restraints except in very limited circumstances.” 

Input and feedback regarding the creation of Rule 296 was provided by numerous sources and stakeholders throughout the state of Illinois. The impetus for the creation of the new rule came from the case of In re Benny M., 2017 IL 120133, where the Supreme Court held that the use of restraints on a respondent in an involuntary treatment proceeding should only be used upon a finding of manifest necessity.

The court's hearing for the necessity of restraints may include factors such as whether the respondent poses a risk of danger to him/herself or others; whether there is a risk of elopement;  the physical security of the courtroom or the room in which the proceeding is being held; and any risk assessment prepared by a trained professional.

“The Committee was especially pleased with the wide array of interest and input it received about the rule. While Supreme Court Rules 430 and 943, respectively, govern the use of restraints during criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings, this new rule allows a trial court to consider additional factors, such as a person's clinical mental health status, in making those decisions in mental health cases,” Justice Zenoff said. “The rule thus establishes a process tailored to proceedings under the Mental Health and Development Disabilities Code, but ensures that persons subject to those proceedings are treated with the same respect and dignity.”

The respondent and the respondent’s attorney will have the opportunity to be present and to be heard at the hearing, and all counsel may present evidence or make proffers and arguments that are relevant to the court’s consideration of the use of restraints.

If a decision is made to use restraints, the court shall state its findings of fact on the record as to the basis for the order entered and the court must allow the least restrictive restraints necessary. Under no circumstances should a respondent be restrained to another person, a wall, the floor, or furniture while in the courtroom.