Illinois Supreme Court approves new rule mandating jury trials in certain cases under mental health code

By Shanice Harris | May 12, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier and the Illinois Supreme Court announced last month the approval of Supreme Court Rule 293. The new rule requires that all trial courts commence a jury trial if requested by a respondent in an involuntary admission proceeding.

SPRINGFIELD — Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier and the Illinois Supreme Court announced last month the approval of Supreme Court Rule 293, which requires that all trial courts commence a jury trial if requested by a respondent in an involuntary admission proceeding.

The new rule is now in effect, and all proceeding requests must be met within 30 days under the Mental Health and Development Disabilities Code.

The rule was initially proposed by the Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning. The committee found it necessary to add a rule to the books to clarify the time limitation trial courts had to put together a jury in a mental health involuntary commitment hearing.

The committee discussed an appropriate time frame and encouraged feedback from several circuit courts in the Madison County area. The surveys were written and distributed by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts and the Conference of Chief Judges.

“Jury trial requirements in involuntary admission proceedings under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code have been the source of considerable confusion and debate," Chief Justice Karmeier said in the announcement. 

“The Court is grateful for the effort and insight which the members of the Committee brought to this task and are pleased to implement its recommendations. The Court is confident that the new rule will provide much needed guidance to the courts and officials charged with enforcing the orders and, in so doing, ensure full and proper protection of the fundamental liberty interests of citizens facing involuntary admission or treatment for mental health issues,” he continued.

The new rule—which includes standardized and uniform orders—will help judges navigate the many mental health cases that they hear in a week. It will allow protocol to be clear, concise and complete.

"Our Committee spent considerable time in study and consultation with judges and others knowledgeable in this area of law throughout the state to develop this new rule and the uniform orders for mental health proceedings," said Justice Kathryn Zenoff, Chair of the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee. 

"We were especially aware of the importance of the fundamental liberty interests in these types of proceedings. We recognized the need to assure clarity and completeness by judges in making the necessary findings and in adherence to specific deadlines when jury trials were requested," she added.

To read the entire Supreme Court Rule 293, visit www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/default.asp.

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