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December 26, 2018

Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms Involuntary Mental Health Treatment Order

On December 11, 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Brandon Michael Prosinski, Docket No 344167, 2018 WL 6517602 (Mich Ct App Dec 11 2018) (unpublished). There, a social worker petitioned the probate court to order respondent Mr. Prosinski to undergo involuntary treatment for mental illness. The probate court granted the petition, and Mr. Prosinski appealed.
 
Under the Mental Health Code, the probate court has the authority to order a person to receive involuntary mental health treatment if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the subject of the petition qualifies as a “person requiring treatment.” There are several ways to prove that the subject of the petition is a “person requiring treatment,” two of which were relevant here.
 
MCL 330.1401(1)(a) provides that “[a]n individual who has mental illness, and who as a result of that mental illness can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously physically injure himself, herself, or another individual, and who has engaged in an act or acts or made significant threats that are substantially supportive of the expectation” is a “person requiring treatment.” Alternately, MCL 330.1401(1)(c) provides that “[a]n individual who has mental illness, whose judgment is so impaired by that mental illness that he or she is unable to understand his or her need for treatment, and whose impaired judgment, on the basis of competent clinical opinion, presents a substantial risk of significant physical or mental harm to the individual in the near future or presents a substantial risk of physical harm to others in the near future” is a “person requiring treatment.”
 
The Court of Appeals affirmed the probate court’s finding that Mr. Prosinski qualified as “a person requiring treatment” under MCL 330.1401(1)(a). There was expert medical testimony that the respondent suffered from mental illness. “Dr. Shultz testified that respondent has substantial disorder of thought, with numerous symptoms suggestive of psychosis.” Id at *3.
 
There was also expert medical testimony that due to mental illness, respondent was likely to injure himself or others. “Respondent had threatened to burn down the building where the social worker worked, and was reported to have suggested that he might have to kill people at the shelter where he was receiving food.” Id. The Court of Appeals also affirmed the probate court’s finding that Mr. Prosinski qualified as “a person requiring treatment” under MCL 330.1401(1)(c), because he was unable to understand his need for treatment. “Dr. Shultz testified that respondent did not understand his need for treatment, and respondent himself testified that he did not need any mental health treatment.” Id.
 
The respondent’s threats of violence and denial of any need for treatment made this a rather clear case, and this decision represents a straightforward application of the relevant Mental Health Code provisions.
 
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this recent opinion on involuntary treatment for mental illness, please contact Warner attorneys David Skidmore or Laura Morris.

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