PA 07-117—HB 7067

Judiciary Committee

Human Services Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPOINTMENT AND POWERS OF CONSERVATORS AND SPECIAL LIMITED CONSERVATORS WITH RESPECT TO PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT

SUMMARY: This act specifies that “clear and convincing evidence” is the legal standard probate courts must apply when deciding motions to allow:

1. conservators and special limited conservators to consent to the administration of psychiatric medication on behalf of incompetent patients or criminal defendants;

2. psychiatric facilities to administer psychiatric medication to patients or criminal defendants who have refused to take it and pose a direct threat of harm to themselves or others; or

3. special limited conservators to consent to release a criminal defendant's medical records to the psychiatric facility that is treating him or her.

Prior law had no explicit legal standard for making these decisions and no provision allowing representatives to consent to the release of a defendant's medical records.

The act also establishes legal process and notice provisions for probate court hearings involving special limited conservator appointments. In most respects they mirror existing laws governing conservator appointments.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

HEARING NOTICES

The act's provisions concerning service of legal process and notices are the same as existing requirements for conservator appointment hearings except:

1. family members and designated state and local officials, who must be given advance notice of conservatorship hearings, need not be notified of special limited conservatorship hearings, and

2. the court has discretion to notify other people, including those the defendant requests, and to prescribe the notification methods to be used.

BACKGROUND

Special Limited Conservators

PA 04-160 creates a civil procedure for involuntarily administering psychiatric medication to criminal defendants with serious mental illnesses committed to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for treatment to restore their competency to stand trial. It authorizes probate courts to appoint special limited conservators with the power to give or withhold consent to the administration of suggested medication.

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