2001 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare; Judiciary A
By: Representative Watson
House Bill 1425
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-21-73, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN EMPLOYEES AND PERSONS FROM HAVING CUSTODY, GUARDIANSHIP OR CONSERVATORSHIP OF A RESPONDENT; TO AMEND SECTION 41-21-77, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT DELIVERY OF A RESPONDENT TO A TREATMENT FACILITY BY CERTAIN EMPLOYEES AND PERSONS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 41-21-81 AND 41-21-83, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR THE LOCATION OF CERTAIN HEARINGS; TO AMEND SECTION 41-21-87, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN DISCHARGE CASES SHALL NOT BE ENJOINED OR RESTRAINED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-21-73, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-73. (1) The hearing shall be conducted before the chancellor. Within a reasonable period of time before the hearing, notice of same shall be provided the respondent and his attorney which shall include: (a) notice of the date, time and place of the hearing; (b) a clear statement of the purpose of the hearing; (c) the possible consequences or outcome of the hearing; (d) the facts which have been alleged in support of the need for commitment; (e) the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the examiner(s); and (f) other witnesses expected to testify.
(2) The respondent must be present at said hearing unless the chancellor determines that the respondent is unable to attend and makes that determination and the reasons therefor part of the record. At the time of the hearing the respondent shall not be so under the influence or suffering from the effects of drugs, medication or other treatment so as to be hampered in participating in the proceedings. The court, at the time of the hearing, shall be presented a record of all drugs, medication or other treatment which the respondent has received pending the hearing, unless the court determines that such a record would be impractical and documents the reasons for that determination.
(3) The respondent shall have the right to offer evidence, to be confronted with the witnesses against him and to cross-examine them and shall have the privilege against self-incrimination. The rules of evidence applicable in other judicial proceedings in this state shall be followed.
(4) If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed patient is a mentally ill or mentally retarded person and, if after careful consideration of reasonable alternative dispositions, including, but not limited to, dismissal of the proceedings, the court finds that there is no suitable alternative to judicial commitment, the court shall commit the patient for treatment in the least restrictive treatment facility which can meet the patient's treatment needs.
Alternatives to commitment to inpatient care may include, but shall not be limited to: voluntary or court-ordered outpatient commitment for treatment with specific reference to a treatment regimen, day treatment in a hospital, night treatment in a hospital, placement in the custody of a friend or relative or the provision of home health services.
For persons committed as mentally ill or mentally retarded, the initial commitment shall not exceed three (3) months.
(5) No person shall be committed to a treatment facility whose primary problems are the physical disabilities associated with old age or birth defects of infancy.
(6) The court shall state the findings of fact and conclusions of law which constitute the basis for the order of commitment. The findings shall include a listing of less restrictive alternatives considered by the court and the reasons that each was found not suitable.
(7) A stenographic transcription shall be recorded by a stenographer or electronic recording device and retained by the court.
(8) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, neither the Board of Mental Health or its members, nor the Department of Mental Health and/or its related facilities, nor any employee of the Department of Mental Health, unless related by blood or marriage, shall be assigned or adjudicated custody, guardianship or conservatorship of the respondent.
SECTION 2. Section 41-21-77, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-77. If admission is ordered at a treatment facility, the sheriff, his deputy or any other person appointed or authorized by the court shall immediately deliver the respondent to the director of the appropriate facility. Neither the Board of Health or its members, nor the Department of Mental Health and/or its related facilities, nor any employee of the Department of Mental Health shall be appointed, authorized or ordered to deliver the respondent for treatment. Provided, however, that no person shall be so delivered or admitted until the director of the admitting institution determines that facilities and services are available. Persons who have been ordered committed and are awaiting admission may be given any such treatment in the facility by a licensed physician as is indicated by standard medical practice. The clerk shall provide the director of the admitting institution with a certified copy of the court order, a certified copy of the physicians' and any psychologist's certificate, a certified copy of the affidavit, and any other information available concerning the physical and mental condition of the respondent; provided, upon notification from the United States Veterans Administration or other agency of the United States government, that facilities are available and the respondent is eligible for care and treatment therein, the court may enter an order for delivery of the respondent to or retention by the Veterans Administration or other agency of the United States government, and, in such cases such chief officer to whom the respondent is so delivered or by whom he is retained shall, with respect to the respondent, be vested with the same powers as the director of the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield, or the East Mississippi State Hospital at Meridian, with respect to retention and discharge of the respondent.
SECTION 3. Section 41-21-81, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-81. If at any time within twenty (20) days after admission of a patient to a treatment facility the director determines that the patient is in need of continued hospitalization, he shall give written notice of his findings, together with his reasons for such findings, to the respondent, the patient's attorney, the clerk of the admitting court and the two (2) nearest relatives or guardian of the patient, if the addresses of such relatives or guardian are known. The patient, or any aggrieved relative or friend or guardian shall have sixty (60) days from the date of such notice to request a hearing on the question of the patient's commitment for further treatment. The patient, or any aggrieved relative or guardian or friend, may request a hearing by filing a written notice of request within such sixty (60) days with the clerk of the county within which the facility is located; provided, however, that the patient may request such a hearing in writing to any member of the professional staff, which shall be forwarded to the director and promptly filed with the clerk of the county within which the facility is located and provided further that if the patient is confined at the Mississippi State Hospital, Whitfield, Mississippi, said notice of request shall be filed with the Chancery Clerk of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. A copy of the notice of request must be filed by the patient or on his behalf with the director and the chancery clerk of the admitting court. The notice of the need for continued hospitalization shall be explained to the patient by a member of the professional staff and the explanation documented in the clinical record. At the same time the patient shall be advised of his right to request a hearing and of his right to consult a lawyer prior to deciding whether to request the hearing, and the fact that the patient has been so advised shall be documented in the clinical record.
Hearings held pursuant to this section shall be in the chancery court of the county where the facility is located; provided, however further, that if the patient is confined at the Mississippi State Hospital, Whitfield, Mississippi, said hearing shall be conducted by the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi.
SECTION 4. Section 41-21-83, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-83. If a hearing is requested as provided in Section 41-21-74, 41-21-81 or 41-21-99, the court shall not make a determination of the need for continued commitment unless a hearing is held and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that (a) the person continues to be mentally ill or mentally retarded; and (b) involuntary commitment is necessary for the protection of the patient or others; and (c) there is no alternative to involuntary commitment. Hearings held under this section shall be in the chancery court of the county where the facility is located; however, if the patient is confined at Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield, the hearing shall be conducted by the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi.
The hearing shall be held within fourteen (14) days after receipt by the court of the request for a hearing. The court may continue the hearing for good cause shown. The clerk shall ascertain whether the patient is represented by counsel, and, if the patient is not represented, shall notify the chancellor who shall appoint counsel for him if the chancellor determines that said patient for any reason does not have the services of an attorney; provided, the patient may waive the appointment of counsel subject to the approval of the court. Notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be served at least seventy-two (72) hours before the time of the hearing upon the patient, his attorney, the director, and the person requesting the hearing, if other than the patient, and any witnesses requested by the patient or his attorney, or any witnesses the court may deem necessary or desirable.
The patient must be present at the hearing unless the chancellor determines that the patient is unable to attend and makes that determination and the reasons therefor part of the record.
The court shall put its findings and the reasons supporting its findings in writing and shall have copies delivered to the patient, his attorney, and the director of the treatment facility. An appeal from the final commitment order by either party may be had on the terms prescribed for appeals in civil cases; however, such appeal shall be without supersedeas. The record on appeal shall include the transcript of the commitment hearing.
SECTION 5. Section 41-21-87, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-21-87. (1) The director of the treatment facility may discharge any civilly committed patient upon filing his certificate of discharge with the clerk of the committing court, certifying that the patient, in his judgment, no longer poses a substantial threat of physical harm to himself or others.
(2) The director of the treatment facility may return any patient to the custody of the committing court upon providing seven (7) days' notice and upon filing his certificate of same as follows:
(a) When, in the judgment of the director, the patient may be treated in a less restrictive environment; provided, however, that treatment in such less restrictive environment shall be implemented within seven (7) days after notification of the court; or
(b) When, in the judgment of the director, adequate facilities or treatment are not available at the treatment facility.
(3) No committing court shall enjoin or restrain any director from discharging a patient pursuant to this section whose treating professionals have determined that the patient meets one of the criteria for discharge as outlined in subsections (1) or (2).
(4) The director may transfer any civilly committed patient from one (1) facility operated directly by the department of mental health to another as necessary for the welfare of that or other patients. Upon receiving the director's certificate of transfer, the court shall enter an order accordingly.
(5) Within twenty-four (24) hours prior to the release or discharge of any civilly committed patient, other than a temporary pass due to sickness or death in the patient's family, the director shall give or cause to be given notice of such release or discharge to one (1) member of the patient's immediate family, provided the member of the patient's immediate family has signed the consent to release form provided under subsection (5) and has furnished in writing a current address and telephone number, if applicable, to the director for such purpose. The notice to the family member shall include the psychiatric diagnosis of any chronic mental disorder incurred by the civilly committed patient and any medications provided or prescribed to the patient for such conditions.
(6) All providers of service, whether in a community mental health/retardation center, region or state psychiatric hospital, are authorized and directed to request a consent to release information from all patients which will allow that entity to involve the family in the patient's treatment. Such release form shall be developed by the Department of Mental Health and provided to all community mental health/retardation centers and state facilities. All such facilities shall request such a release of information upon the date of admission of the patient to the facility or at least by the time the patient is discharged.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2001.