Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene v. Kelly (Ct. of Appeals)

Filed March 14, 2007 – Opinion by Judge Lynne Battaglia

Anthony Kelly was adjudged incompetent to stand trial in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County because his delusional disorder prevented him from understanding the adversarial nature of the proceedings against him, and precluded him from assisting in his criminal defense. He was committed to a state health institution for treatment, where the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sought to forcibly medicate him. The Department convened a Clinical Review Panel that approved the forcible medication and that decision was upheld by an ALJ. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City reversed. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Section 10-708 (g) of the Health-General Article of the Maryland Code (1982, 2005 Repl. Vol.) requires the State to prove that an individual, because of his mental illness, is dangerous to himself or others within a state institution before it can forcibly administer medication. Finding nothing in the record to show that Kelly was, because of his mental illness, dangerous to himself or others within the state institution, the Court determined that he could not be forcibly medicated pursuant to Section 10-70 8 (b)(2) and (g).

In a concurring opinion, Judge Alan Wilner raised a concern that the Court had addressed a broader question that the one presented in the case. Judge Wilner would have courts look at the nature and purpose of the prescribed medication when psychiatrists in a State hospital to which a criminal defendant has been committed believe it is necessary to forcibly medicate the defendant. Where the State could demonstrate that the purpose of the medication was not just to suppress but also to treat and ameliorate the symptoms that caused the patient to be committed in the first place, Judge Wilner would put the focus on whether (1) without the medication, those symptoms will not be treated or ameliorated and the patient will therefore remain ineligible for release, and (2) with the medication, the patient will likely become eligible for release. Judge Wilner would put the burden on the State to show both that the prescribed medication is for that broader purpose and that, alone or in conjunction with other medications or therapies, it has a reasonable chance of achieving that objective without undue side effects. Judge Glenn Harrell joined in the concurrence.

The opinion is available in PDF.


Anonymous said...

This is an insane ruling. Anthony Kelly is in the Clifton T Perkins hospital precisely BECAUSE he was found incompetent to stand trial AND dangerous. He is charged with murdering three people, including a little girl--and raping multiple women! How can he not be dangerous? In fact, the hospital issued a report finding him dangerous, which the judge accepted when remanding him to Perkins. How can he be dangerous outside the institution but not inside it? How can he be competent to participate in his medical care but incompetent to participate in his own trial for murder, rape and robbery over a span of months? This is completely illogical. I watched the webcast of the appeal proceedings, and one of the judges didn't even know what the criminal charges were. This is really a disgrace. After ten years, if he is still incompetent, charges against him must be dropped. So, in nine more years, can we expect to see Anthony Kelly back on the streets? The court system certainly seems to be documenting a case for finding him incompetent to stand trial but not dangerous.

Anonymous said...

From the Washington Post - Anthony Kelly is now competent:
Murder Suspect Competent To Stand Trial, Doctors Say
D.C. Resident Accused of Killing 2 People, Raping 2 Others