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Wednesday March 30, 2016

Mental Illiness and the law
posted by Oliver H. Barber, Jr.

“I need to get out but they don’t want me out for I know things that the system hid = they want me for, (“Please dont tell any government or medical personel”) I know you think im sick but I promiss you im o.k. and there nothing wrong its just everything that life appears isnt what it seems even if you cant see, hear, smell, what I can doest mean its not happening for I do and animals like dalphins and fish talk where you cant hear like the reptilian which were half clones from them and farts mean more but also tell a story to past and future. I need out im tired of being hiding sheltered away from people ive not slept in forever it seems.”

In 1974, I drafted the Civil Commitment Law for the state of Kentucky, K.R.S. 202(a). At that time, I was the chief mental health lawyer for the state of Kentucky. So it was right before I went into private and the General Assembly passed a law on that date.

Subsequent thereto, it was reenacted in 1982 and has been in effect ever since.

I also drafted K.R.S. 202(b) which was enacted in 1976. Neither one of those statutes have been substantially changed since the time that I drafted them.

The above quote was written by a severely mentally ill man who is in the state of Kentucky. I and one of my young lawyers spent an hour with him not too long ago, trying to figure out what, if anything, we can do for him.

Go back and read the paragraph that started this blog. Therein you will see that he is mentally ill and potentially dangerous to himself or others. Under the aegis of K.R.S. 202(a), he would be eligible to be incarcerated against his will in a mental hospital after being evaluated at a triage unit of a major hospital in Louisville or one of the hospitals throughout the state of Kentucky that does this type of evaluation.

K.R.S. 202(b) provides the same services under the law for individuals who are developmentally disabled or mentally retarded and mentally ill.

Now, I have been actively practicing law in the mental health/mental retardation field since I was a JAG Officer in the Army in Vietnam in 1961. This is a very difficult area of the law that entails a lot of information and background knowledge that cannot be accumulated by sleeping in the right Holiday Inn the night before the event occurs.

To that end, the bottom line for this particular blog is that if you find somebody that is in need of mental health treatment and the laws involved, either involved through a commitment or something akin to that, then I’m probably a good person to get in contact with.

One of the things you would need to know is that the General Assembly is in the process of evaluating and possibly passing an amendment to K.R.S. 202(a) at this time. House Bill 94 authored by Health & Welfare Chairman Tom Burch and others is an act relating to court ordered outpatient mental health treatment. Under certain conditions, this Bill is going to try to require the 2 individual who is mentally ill and has been determined in the past to be mentally ill and hospitalized, will be required to “take his medicine”.

And, if not, then the Court may order re-hospitalization. There are many other aspects to this change in the law, but we will have to wait and see how it comes out in the wash. On March 11, 2016, the Bill was received in the Senate after passage in the House, 96 to 0, on March 10, 2016. On March 14, 2016, the Bill was sent to Senate Appropriations & Revenue, and we will see how far it goes.

It might have some hard sledding going forward because of the budget bill that is all consuming at this time in the General Assembly.

However, the takeaway from this blog is that if you find somebody that is in need of mental health assistance within the context of the laws of the Commonwealth, please give me a call, Oliver H. Barber, Jr..