Recent Developments (Updated December 27, 2016)

People v. Matthew Dempsey.  We have represented Mr. Dempsey for many years.  Several years ago we obtained his conditional release from confinement pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4.  In Spring, 2016, the State's Attorney of Peoria County filed a petition to revoke his conditional release.   A hearing was held on that petition on November 18, 2016.  The court denied the petition and ordered Mr. Dempsey to be conditionally released again.  Nick Smith '17 represented Mr. Dempsey in the revocation hearing.

People v. Omar Shaheed.  We represent Mr. Shaheed who has been confined at Elgin Mental Health Center pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4 for many years after being found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI).. Following a contested hearing on November 12, 2015, the court found that he not longer met the criterai for inpatient confinement.  However, the court disapproved of the conditional release plan prepared by Elgin MHC and directed that they prepare a new plan within 60 days.    Elgin MHC complied with this order and in May, 2016, folloiwing a hearing on this new plan, Mr. Shaheed was conditionally released. Daniel Alperstein '16 represented Mr. Shaheed in these hearings.   

People v. Karl Sneider.  We represent Mr. Sneider who has been confined at Elgin Mental Health Center pursuant to 730 ILCS 5.5-2-4 for many years after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of a homicide. Following a contested hearing on Februrary 11, 2016, the court found that he could be conditionally released to live in the community.  Brian Pflaum '16 represented Mr. Sneider in his release hearing.



Legislation Drafted by the Project and Passed by the Illinois Legislature in 2015 and 2016

Public Act 99-0877 (effective 8/22/16).  As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the number of persons with mental illnesses in prison, we obtained an amendment to the sentencing provisions in Illinois law requiring judges to consider any evidence presented to them concerning a defendant's mental illnesses as a factor in mitigation of the sentence to be imposed.  

Public Act 99-0179 (effective 7/29/15. Because of an unintentional anomaly in the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, persons charged with a felony cannot be the subject of a hearing to authoritze psychotropic medication under 405 ILCS 5/2-107.1.  At least 15% of the people in county jails have a serious mental illness.  Many of them are unable or unwilling to consent to the medications needed to reduce or prevent their suffering.  Illinois has a statutorily- defined procedure for court hearings to determine whether such medications are necessary and appropriate.  .This law makes that procedure available to persons awaiting trial on felony charges.

Public Act 99-0028 (effective 1/1/16)  Several court decisions have suggested that the otherwise broad protections contained in the Mental Health and Developmental Disablities Confidentiality Act only lappply to records and documents created during a "therapeutic relationship."  Thus, records and communications created during a referral evaluation or by ancillary providers such a pharmacists who are dispensing psychotropic medications appear not to be protected.  The law overturns this restrictive interpretation of the Confidentiality Act.

Public Act 99-0220 (effective 7/31/15). The venue provisions governing involuntary commitment hearings permit a respondent to have a commitment hearing transferred to her or his conuty of residence for any reason. This has created problems in rural areas of Illinois where patients are often treated in a hospital in another county.  If involuntary commitment is necessary, thevenue provisions frequently result in substantial delays in commitment hearings, additional expense in transporting the patient and witnesses to the hearing, and sometimes even the dismissal of the commitment petition for reasons unrelated to its merits.  This Act limits changes of venue to cases where they are necessary to facilitate the attendance of witnesses which are necesary to afford the patient a fair hearing.