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In Re: MH 2005-001290 - 9/14/2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That Court May Give Notice of Subject’s Release From Involuntary Mental Health Treatment Even When Subject Has Not Been Declared a “Danger to Others ”.

After the appellant made statements threatening to harm himself and members of his family, petitions for involuntary court-ordered mental health evaluation and court-ordered treatment were filed. The superior court held a hearing, determined that appellant is persistently or acutely disabled as a result of a mental disorder, and ordered that he receive treatment. Three days later, the family members whom appellant had threatened filed petitions asking that they be given notice prior to appellant’s release from treatment. Although A.R.S. § 36-541.01(B), the statute cited by the family members, provided for notice only when the subject of treatment has been declared a “danger to others,” the court invoked its discretion under A.R.S. § 36-509(A)(3) to grant the requests for notice.

Division One affirmed. The Court first noted that although appellant’s release from treatment had mooted the issue, the issue was “capable of repetition yet evading review,” and therefore could be addressed. Appellant argued that allowing A.R.S. § 36-509(A)(3) to authorize notice in these circumstances effectively rendered A.R.S. § 36-541.01(B) “purposeless.” The Court disagreed, noting that the two statutes “are distinct and serve separate purposes.” Observing that the nature of the statements the appellant had made was extremely threatening. The Court concluded that the trial court had not abused its discretion in deciding to give appellant’s family members notice of his release from treatment.

The decision was authored by Judge Portley and joined by Judges Norris and Snow.

Posted On: 9/15/2006