Medical malpractice; exacerbation of pre-existing mental health conditions

Summers v. Syptak, 801 S.E.2d 422 (Va. 2017)

The Virginia Supreme Court rules that in a claim by a patient that crude, offensive and sexually oriented remarks to the patient by the physician aggravated symptoms of the patient’s pre-existing multiple mental health and medical conditions, the plaintiff’s failure to designate an expert to testify that the physician’s conduct was the proximate cause of the harm experienced by the patient required dismissal under Virginia’s medical malpractice statute.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

NGRI; sentencing

Williams v. Commonwealth, 2017 WL 3751532 (Va. August 31, 2017)

The Virginia Supreme Court finds that in a case where defendant was found guilty on a charge of felony assault for one act and was found NGRI on another charge of felony assault for an act committed a month later, the trial court’s decision to order defendant to serve his prison term on his conviction before being hospitalized to treat his mental illness under the NGRI verdict did not result in a “grave injustice.” A concurring opinion noted the need for clarification in statutory guidance. A strong dissent argued that existing statutory law requires a different result.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Psychiatrist-patient privilege; defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to present a defense

State v. Fay, 326 Conn. 742 (Conn. 2017)

The Connecticut Supreme Court rules that where a defendant shows a “compelling need” for privileged psychiatric records of a homicide victim as material to his defense, “the interests of the accused must prevail over the victim's psychiatrist-patient privilege” and an in camera review of the records may be undertaken.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Criminal responsibility; self-induced intoxication

State v. Eager, 398 P.3d 756 (Haw. 2017)

The Hawai’i Supreme Court reverses felony assault conviction of defendant whose psychotic condition at the time of the assault was found by the trial court to be “self-induced” due to the defendant’s failure to take his medication. The Supreme Court rules that state law requires such intoxication be caused by the introduction of substances into the body,
not the failure to introduce substances.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Liability for harm by patient to third parties; “special relationship” doctrine

Rodriguez v. Catholic Health Initiatives, d/b/a Chi Health, et al., 899 N.W.2d 227 (Neb. 2017)

Nebraska Supreme Court rules that psychiatric hospital and involved medical staff asserting custodial authority over a patient due to the patient’s mental illness and danger to self or others have a duty to take action to prevent harm to “reasonably identifiable” third parties.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

“Special duty” doctrine

McLaughlin v. City of Martinsburg, 2017 WL 3821808 (W.Va. Sept. 1, 2017)

West Virginia Supreme Court denies plaintiff’s claim that police officers were liable under “special duty doctrine” for negligently failing to take into protective custody a person with mental illness who was reported to be acting strangely and who was later struck and killed by an automobile.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Sexually dangerous individual; proof of likelihood to re-offend

In the Interest of Danny Robert Nelson, 896 N.W.2d 923 (N.D. 2017)

North Dakota Supreme Court orders release of person from commitment as a sexually dangerous individual after finding the evidentiary record fails to show that the person “has a present difficulty of controlling his behavior.” A dissenting opinion argues that the Court goes beyond the requirements of the law and impermissibly substitutes its judgment for that of the district court.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Sexually violent predators; proof of likelihood to re-offend

In the Matter of the Detention of Troy Belcher, 399 P.3d 1179 (Wash. 2017)

Washington Supreme Court rules that an adult’s convictions as a juvenile can be “predicate offenses” supporting a finding that the person meets the criteria for continued civil commitment as a sexually violent predator.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Ineffective assistance of counsel

United States v. Laureys, 866 F.3d 432 (D.C. Cir. 2017)

D.C. Circuit reverses defendant’s conviction for attempted sex crime involving a minor due to defense counsel’s failure to properly consider mental health expert findings regarding defendant’s mental condition, with the result that defense counsel wrongly pursued his own unsupported theory and neglected expert evidence regarding defendant’s capacity to form the requisite criminal intent.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Forcible administration of antipsychotic medication; due process; Sell doctrine

Winkel v. Hammond, 2017 WL 3225632 (10th Cir. July 31, 2017)

Tenth Circuit rules that defendant hospitalized for restoration to competency to stand trial has filed a plausible claim of a due process violation by hospital staff when he alleges that he was forcibly medicated without any finding that he posed a danger to self or others or that he met the Sell standards for forcible medication to restore him to competency.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Eighth Amendment right of jail inmate to be free from deliberate indifference to risk of suicide; qualified immunity

Estate of Clark v. Walker, 865 F.3d 544 (7th Cir. 2017)

Seventh Circuit denies motion for summary judgment and claims of qualified immunity by jail deputy and contract nurse in suicide case, where deceased inmate’s estate alleged defendants failed to follow jail’s suicide protocols despite testing that showed maximum suicide risk; private contract nurse found ineligible to invoke qualified immunity.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Competence to stand trial; ineffective assistance of counsel

Anderson v. United States, 865 F.3d 914 (7th Cir. 2017)

Seventh Circuit rules that defendant who had entered guilty plea to a felony charge is entitled to a hearing on whether he was competent at the time to enter that plea, as neither his counsel nor the court made adequate inquiries despite evidence of his serious mental illness.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Excessive force ; qualified immunity

Roell v. Hamilton Cty., 870 F.3d 471 (6th Cir. 2017)

Sixth Circuit upholds summary judgment in favor of law enforcement officers sued for use of excessive force by estate of man who died while being physically subdued and tasered by the officers in response to his acting out behaviors and active resistance of the officers.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

NGRI acquittees; constitutional standards for release from civil commitment

Poree v. Collins, 866 F.3d 235 (5th Cir. 2017)

Fifth Circuit rules that, although due process requires a finding of both current mental illness and dangerousness in order to maintain the civil confinement of an NGRI acquittee, the trial court’s determination of dangerousness may be based on the acquittee’s potential for dangerous conduct.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Competency to be executed

Panetti v. Davis, 863 F.3d 366 (5th Cir. 2017)

Fifth Circuit finds petitioner who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death has a due process right to a hearing and funds for counsel and mental health experts to pursue a claim that he is not competent to be executed due to his serious mental illness.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Violent sex offenders; due process

United States v. Maclaren, 866 F.3d 212 (4th Cir. 2017)

Fourth Circuit rules that a motion for discharge by a civilly committed sex offender under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act must be heard by the district court if, after meeting prescribed time requirements, the motion contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for discharge” that is “plausible on its face.”

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Liability to injured third parties; special relationships; duty of care

Gottschalk v. Pomeroy Development, Inc., 893 N.W.2d 579 (Iowa 2017)

The Iowa Supreme Court holds that the state owed no duty of care to a private facility resident who was sexually abused by another resident who had been discharged by a court from a state violent sex offender program and then ordered by another court into the private facility due to dementia; further, no duty of care was owed to the private facility.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 2

Outpatient commitment

In the Matter of the Mental Commitment of J.W.J., 895 N.W.2d 783 (Wis. 2017)

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects argument by plaintiff subjected to repeated renewals of his outpatient commitment order that, because these repeated commitments have not resulted in his “rehabilitation” from paranoid schizophrenia the state cannot continue to forcibly treat him under the outpatient commitment statute

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 2

Criminal sentencing of juveniles; right to new sentencing hearing

In re Kirchner, 393 P.3d 364 (Cal. 2017)

California Supreme Court rules that inmate sentenced 20 years ago as a juvenile to life imprisonment without parole under standards violating Miller v. Alabama was entitled to seek relief through a habeas corpus action and is entitled to re-sentencing under the Miller standards.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 2