1998 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Carlton
Senate Bill 2759
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-21-67, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE A LICENSED PHYSICIAN OR PSYCHOLOGIST TO TAKE INTO CUSTODY ANY INDIVIDUAL BELIEVED TO BE MENTALLY ILL AND POSING AN IMMEDIATE SUBSTANTIAL LIKELIHOOD OF PHYSICAL HARM TO HIMSELF OR TO OTHERS AS AN EMERGENCY PATIENT AND TO PROVIDE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL IMMUNITY FOR ANY SUCH PHYSICIAN OR PSYCHOLOGIST ACTING IN GOOD FAITH; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-21-67, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-67. (1) Whenever such affidavit as is provided for in Section 41-21-65 shall be filed with the chancery clerk, the clerk, upon direction of the chancellor of said court, shall issue a writ directed to the sheriff of the proper county to take into his custody the person alleged to be in need of treatment and to bring such person before said clerk or chancellor who shall order pre-evaluation screening and treatment by the appropriate community mental health center established pursuant to Section 41-19-31 and for examination as set forth in Section 41-21-69. Provided, however, that when such affidavit fails to set forth factual allegations and witnesses sufficient to support the need for treatment, the chancellor shall refuse to direct issuance of the writ. Reapplication may be made to the chancellor. If a pauper's affidavit is filed by a guardian for commitment of the ward of the guardian, the court shall determine if the ward is a pauper and if such ward is determined to be a pauper, the county of the residence of the respondent shall bear the costs of commitment, unless funds for such purposes are made available by the state.
(2) Upon issuance of the writ the chancellor shall forthwith appoint and summon two (2) reputable, licensed physicians or one (1) such physician and a psychologist to conduct a physical and mental examination of such person at a place to be designated by said clerk or chancellor and to report their findings to said clerk or chancellor. In all counties wherein there is a county health officer, such county health officer, if available, may be one (1) of the physicians so appointed. Neither of the physicians or any psychologist selected shall be related to such person in any way, nor have any direct or indirect interest in the estate of such person nor shall any full-time staff of residential treatment facilities operated directly by the Department of Mental Health serve as examiner.
(3) The clerk shall ascertain whether the respondent is represented by an attorney, and if it is determined that respondent does not have an attorney the clerk shall immediately notify the chancellor of such fact, and if the chancellor determines that respondent for any reason does not have the services of an attorney, the chancellor shall forthwith appoint an attorney for the respondent at the time the examiners are appointed.
(4) If the chancellor determines that there is probable cause to believe that the respondent is mentally ill and that there is no reasonable alternative to detention, the chancellor may order that the respondent be retained as an emergency patient at any available regional mental health facility or any other available suitable location as the court may so designate pending an admission hearing and may, if necessary, order a peace officer or other person to transport the respondent to such mental health facility or suitable location. Any respondent so retained may be given such treatment by a licensed physician as is indicated by standard medical practice. Provided, however, the respondent shall not be held in a hospital operated directly by the Department of Mental Health; and shall not be held in jail unless the court finds that there is no reasonable alternative.
(5) Whenever a licensed physician or psychologist certified to complete examinations for the purpose of commitment has reason to believe that a person is subject to detention because he is mentally ill and poses an immediate substantial likelihood of physical harm to himself or others as defined in Section 41-21-61(e), Mississippi Code of 1972, then the physician/psychologist may take the person into custody without a civil order or warrant for a period not to exceed the end of the next business day of the chancery clerk's office. Such person shall be retained as an emergency patient at any available regional mental health facility or any other available suitable locations the court may so designate, but shall not be held in jail. The physician/psychologist who takes the person into custody shall certify in writing the reasons for the need for detention. Any respondent so detained may be given such treatment by a licensed physician as indicated by standard medical practice. Persons acting in good faith in connection with the detention of a person believed to be mentally ill shall incur no liability, civil or criminal, for such acts. No civil suit of any kind whatsoever shall be brought or prosecuted against the physician/psychologist and/or the health care entity which employs the physician/psychologist except for willful or malicious acts or acts of gross negligence.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.