SB 164

In Committee
Session
Regular Session 2019
Title
Juveniles, authorize juvenile court judges to extend jurisdiction of a community mental health officer in his or her county to juveniles, Secs. 22-52-90, 22-52-91, 22-52-92, 22-52-93 am'd.
Description

Existing law provides authority for community mental health officers to temporarily take into custody individuals who appear to have a mental illness and pose an immediate danger to self or to others. This law is applicable to individual counties only upon a decision of the local judge of probate with approval of the county commission

This law currently applies only to persons who have reached the age of majority because juvenile courts, not probate courts, exercise jurisdiction over juveniles who suffer from mental illness

This bill would extend authority to a presiding county juvenile court judge to extend the jurisdiction of a community mental health officer in his or her county to juveniles aged 14 years and older

Relating to juveniles; to amend Sections 22-52-90, 22-52-91, 22-52-92, and 22-52-93, Code of Alabama 1975, to extend authority to a presiding county juvenile court judge to extend the jurisdiction of a community mental health officer in his or her county to juveniles aged 14 years and older.

Subjects
Juveniles
Note: Bills that change current law do not show the amended text correctly below. Please view Original PDF to see amended sections: SB 164 - Introduced - PDF

Existing law provides authority for community mental health officers to temporarily take into custody individuals who appear to have a mental illness and pose an immediate danger to self or to others. This law is applicable to individual counties only upon a decision of the local judge of probate with approval of the county commission

This law currently applies only to persons who have reached the age of majority because juvenile courts, not probate courts, exercise jurisdiction over juveniles who suffer from mental illness

This bill would extend authority to a presiding county juvenile court judge to extend the jurisdiction of a community mental health officer in his or her county to juveniles aged 14 years and older

Relating to juveniles; to amend Sections 22-52-90, 22-52-91, 22-52-92, and 22-52-93, Code of Alabama 1975, to extend authority to a presiding county juvenile court judge to extend the jurisdiction of a community mental health officer in his or her county to juveniles aged 14 years and older.

Section 1

Sections 22-52-90, 22-52-91, 22-52-92, and 22-52-93, Code of Alabama 1975, are amended to read as follows:

§22-52-90.

As used in this article, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:

(1) DESIGNATED MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY. A mental health facility other than a state mental health facility designated by the state Department of Mental Health to receive persons for evaluation, examination, admission, detention, or treatment pursuant to the commitment process. In cases of juvenile patients aged 14 years and older only, this term shall refer to any licensed hospital.

(2) COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH OFFICER. A person who acts as a liaison between law enforcement and the general public, and who is regularly employed by a municipality within the county or regularly employed by the county commission or any public body or agency, including the state Department of Mental Health. A community mental health officer may be employed jointly or in combination by two or more governments, entities, or agencies authorized by the immediately preceding sentence. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a community mental health officer shall not be an employee of the Department of Human Resources. A community mental health officer shall possess a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university in social work or a related field or, with the approval pursuant to findings of the judge of probate or the presiding juvenile court judge, any equivalent combination of education and experience; at least one year of experience in social work; knowledge of the principles, practices, and techniques of social work as they apply to crisis intervention; knowledge of theory, principles, and practices of psychiatric social work; knowledge of federal, state, and municipal laws regarding the aiding of mental patients; and knowledge of the functions and resources of public and private social agencies in the community. The compensation of the community mental health officer shall be determined by the employing entity, entities, or agency. The state Department of Mental Health may pay part or all of the compensation, including fringe benefits, of the community mental health officer employed hereunder.

(3) COUNTY. A county in the State of Alabama.

(4) LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER. A policeman regularly employed by a municipality within the county or a sheriff or deputy sheriff regularly employed by the county.

(5) WITHIN THE COUNTY. A place within the boundaries of the county.

(6) STATE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY. A mental health facility operated by the state Department of Mental Health and designated by the commissioner to have beds available to receive persons for evaluation, examination, admission, detention, or treatment for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this article.

(7) COMMISSIONER. Commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health.

§22-52-91.

(a) When a law enforcement officer is confronted by circumstances and has reasonable cause for believing that a person within the county is mentally ill and also believes that the person is likely to be of immediate danger to self or others, the law enforcement officer shall contact a community mental health officer. The community mental health officer shall join the law enforcement officer at the scene and location of the person to assess conditions and determine if the person needs the attention, specialized care, and services of a designated mental health facility. If the community mental health officer determines from the conditions, symptoms, and behavior that the person appears to be mentally ill and poses an immediate danger to self or others, the law enforcement officer shall take the person into custody and, together with the community mental health officer, deliver the person directly to the designated mental health facility. At the designated mental health facility, a responsible employee of the facility who is on duty and in charge of admissions to the facility shall be informed by the community mental health officer that the person in custody appears to be mentally ill and is in need of examination and observation.

(b) The employee of the designated mental health facility shall immediately notify an appropriate staff member of the facility who conducts diagnoses and evaluations that an alleged mentally ill person has been received at the facility. The staff member shall immediately perform an initial examination and observation which, coupled with whatever other information concerning the person's behavior as may be available, will allow the staff member to make a determination as to whether to admit the person to the designated mental health facility as a tentatively diagnosed mentally ill patient for further observation and attention. Notwithstanding anything in this article to the contrary, before any person is admitted to a licensed hospital pursuant to this article, the person shall be examined and evaluated by a psychiatrist or other physician licensed to practice medicine and authorized by the hospital medical staff bylaws of the licensed hospital to admit patients for the treatment of mental or emotional illnesses. All admissions to a licensed hospital authorized under this article shall be made only in conformity with established policies, procedures, and the medical staff bylaws of the licensed hospital to which the person is admitted. No provision of this article shall be construed to authorize or permit any person not licensed to practice medicine to perform any act or render any service which constitutes the practice of medicine.

(c) Upon a determination by the staff member that the person does not require admission to the designated mental health facility, the staff member shall so advise the community mental health officer. The community mental health officer shall promptly communicate this information to the law enforcement officer who shall cause the person to be released from the designated mental health facility. The law enforcement officer shall then release the person unless the law enforcement officer has some legal cause for detaining the person other than the person's mental condition. After the person is released, and, if so requested by the person, the law enforcement officer shall deliver the person to the person's residence or other place of abode if it is within the county.

(d) Upon a determination by the staff member that the alleged mentally ill person should be admitted to the designated mental health facility, the staff member shall proceed with admission of the person to the facility. The staff member shall also advise the community mental health officer who shall promptly communicate this information to the law enforcement officer. The community mental health officer shall effectuate the filing of a petition for commitment with the probate court on the person, if that person is over the age of majority, or with the juvenile court, if that person has not reached the age of majority and is at least 14 years old, by parties in interest. If no one comes forward to timely file the petition, the community mental health officer shall file the petition in his or her official capacity no later than the second business day following the date of admission. (e) No later than the next business day following the date of admission, the staff member shall notify either the judge of probate, or the probate clerk of the county, or the juvenile court, as appropriate, of the admission to the designated mental health facility of the alleged mentally ill person. The judge of probate or, the probate clerk, or the juvenile court shall arrange a probable cause hearing to determine if the detention of the alleged mentally ill person is based upon probable cause to believe that confinement is necessary under constitutionally proper standards for commitment or alternate modes of treatment and if the detention should continue until a final hearing on the merits can be held. In the case where a community mental health officer has acted in helping gain the admission of the alleged mentally ill person to a designated mental health facility for initial examination and observation, the judge of probate or a juvenile court judge, as appropriate, shall interview the alleged mentally ill person pursuant to this section no later than the fifth business day next after admission to the designated mental health facility or hospital.

(f) Prior to the probable cause hearing the probate appropriate court shall furnish adequate notice informing the person, or his or her counsel, of the time and place of the hearing and of the factual grounds upon which the proposed commitment is predicated and the reasons for the necessity of confinement. The probate court shall require that the alleged mentally ill person be represented by counsel at the hearing, which counsel shall be appointed by the court if necessary. The probate court shall require the presence of the alleged mentally ill person at the hearing unless his or her presence is waived by counsel and approved by the court after an adversary hearing at the conclusion of which the court judicially finds and determines that the person is so mentally or physically ill as to be incapable of attending the probable cause hearing. In no event may detention in the absence of a petition for commitment and a probable cause hearing exceed seven days from the date of the initial confinement under this article. If the court finds and determines that there is no probable cause to detain the person, the court shall immediately cause the person to be discharged and released from the designated mental health facility. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if criminal charges have been placed against the individual and the health care facility has been so notified by an appropriate law enforcement officer, the designated mental health facility shall release the person into the custody of the appropriate law enforcement officer.

(g) If the court determines there is probable cause to detain the person pending a full hearing on the need for commitment or some alternate mode of treatment, the court shall issue a mittimus or commitment of the person to the designated mental health facility until the proceedings may be held in accordance with law. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the proceedings shall be held within a reasonable time following initial detention, but in no event sooner than will permit adequate preparation of the case by counsel, or later than 30 days from the date of the initial detention.

§22-52-92.

(a) This article shall not be applicable to any county unless and until either of the following events occurs:

(1) The judge of probate with the approval of the county commission of that particular county makes a finding that there exists in the county provisions for implementation of the community mental health officer program and the necessary facilities to detain persons over the age of majority pursuant to this article.

(2) A presiding juvenile court judge with the approval of the county commission of that particular county makes a finding that there exists in the county provisions for implementation of the community mental health officer program and the necessary facilities to detain juveniles aged 14 years or older pursuant to this article.

In that either event, the judge of probate shall open a case under a docket number and enter therein findings upon the records of the court which shall also expressly state the an intention thereby to invoke this article. Notification and a copy of the court's findings and statement shall be served on all designated mental health facilities located within the county, all law enforcement agencies within the county, the Commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health, the state Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Governor of the State of Alabama, and any other persons deemed appropriate by the judge of probate. In the event of changed circumstances, the judge of probate may terminate the procedures set forth in Section 22-52-91, and shall make findings accordingly and serve the parties named herein and others previously notified.

(b) Notwithstanding anything in this article to the contrary, in the event there are no facilities available in the county to serve as a designated mental health facility, the county commission, upon recommendation of the appropriate judge of probate, of that county, may enter into an agreement with the state Department of Mental Health to use beds in a state Department of Mental Health facility in lieu of a designated mental health facility. The commissioner shall have the final decision to determine the number of beds, if any, in a state Department of Mental Health facility that may be made available to the counties under this section. This subsection may not be used by or be applicable to any county unless and until the appropriate judge of probate makes a finding that there are no facilities available in the county for implementation of the community mental health officer program, that there is an agreement between the probate court and the state Department of Mental Health to make beds in a state Department of Mental Health facility available, and that there is an alternative procedure other than jail or prison, adopted by the probate court that will be used when beds are not available in a state Department of Mental Health facility. If this subsection is used to implement the community mental health officer program, then the law enforcement officer shall deliver the person directly to the state Department of Mental Health, or as directed by the community mental health officer when a bed is not available in a state Department of Mental Health facility. Thereafter, all other procedures set forth in this article for operation of the community mental health officer program shall apply the same as if the person was delivered to a designated mental health facility.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision in this article to the contrary, a petition for commitment filed pursuant to Section 22-52-91 and subsequent proceedings held to determine probable cause and final hearings on the merits shall be in the probate an appropriate court of, as provided in this article, in the county where the respondent was initially taken into custody by law enforcement.

§22-52-93.

(a) No county shall be required to pay costs associated with the temporary confinement or commitment of a person to a designated mental health facility, including, but not limited to, the cost of housing and treatment.

(b) All costs associated with a probable cause hearing, including the cost of counsel, shall be paid by the State General Fund upon order of the appropriate judge of probate; except, that if with the following exceptions:

(1) If the petition is denied and the petitioner is not indigent and is not a law enforcement officer or other public official acting within the line and scope of his or her duties, all costs may be taxed against the petitioner, or if.

(2) If the petition is granted and the person sought to be committed has reached the age of majority and is not indigent, the appropriate judge of probate may order all costs paid from the estate of the person committed."

Section 2

This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.

Action Date Chamber Action
March 21, 2019 S Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary