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In Re MH 2007-000629 - 6/3/2008

Arizona Court Of Appeals Division One Holds That Patient May Be Removed From Commitment Hearing For Disruptive Behavior Without Advance Warning.


Nancy M. was “extremely disorganized, loud, aggressive, psychotic, and delusional.”  Therefore, the State petitioned for a hearing to determine whetherNancy’s disabilities warranted involuntary treatment.  During witness examination,Nancy began interrupting the proceeding with seemingly nonsensical yelling.  After askingNancy “to be quiet,” the court attempted to speak to her four additional times.  Each time,Nancy ignored the court and continued to disrupt the hearing.  The court therefore ordered thatNancy be removed from the hearing.  Nancy appealed.     

The Arizona Appeals Court affirmed.  The Court rejectedNancy’s argument that, before a patient may be removed from a commitment hearing held pursuant to A.R.S. § 36-539, due process requires that a specific warning be given that further disruptive behavior will result in removal.  While the Court agreed that such a warning is “desirable” and “the best practice,” the Court concluded that it is within the trial judge’s discretion whether to issue a warning where, as here, the “court-issued warning may not . . . be recognized or understood by a patient.”         

Judge Irvine authored the opinion; Judges Barker and Johnsen concurred. 

 

Posted On: 6/10/2008