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NY Court: Mental Patient Can Challenge Unlawful Detention

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New York's top court says a mentally ill patient involuntarily sent to a psychiatric hospital has a common law right to challenge detention once the court order for treatment expires. 

The Court of Appeals, split 5-1, says New York's mental health statute governs such challenges by patients who believe they have sufficiently recovered, but it doesn't preclude filing a writ of habeas corpus against unlawful imprisonment.

The case concerns a man identified in court papers only as Stephen S., detained in Holliswood Hospital in Queens for weeks after his court-ordered three-month psychiatric treatment for paranoid delusions had expired in 2012.

Mental Hygiene Legal Service petitioned for his release. The hospital argued he was still dangerous and should first face a hearing on his mental status.

Stephen was released in 2013, and the hospital closed in 2014.

© 2015 Associated Press

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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