Collateral Consequences Exception To Mootness Doctrine Applies To Involuntary Commitment Dispute

The police took Joseph P. to the hospital because he was acting emotionally unstable. Against Joseph’s wishes, a trial court later allowed the State’s request that Joseph be involuntarily committed to the hospital and that he be given psychotropic drugs. Joseph appealed the order. He claimed a number of statutory requirements were not followed, and that his liberty interests were violated.

The first question was whether the mootness doctrine precluded the appellate court from considering the appeal. Joseph’s appeal was moot: the commitment order was for 90 days, which had passed by the time the case reached the appellate court. But the question was whether the dispute fell under the “collateral consequences” exception to the mootness doctrine.

The “collateral consequences” exception applies if a party could suffer some future adverse repercussion if the trial court’s order were not reviewed. In Joseph’s case, the Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court concluded the exception should apply. Here’s why:

If the commitment and medication orders stand, adverse consequences
will attach and can be used against Joseph P. in future proceedings. Even greater adverse consequences may result for a youthful respondent. [Joseph was 18 years old.] Therefore, the collateral-consequences exception to the mootness doctrine applies in this case to all issues on review.

In the end, the appellate court ruled “the totality of procedural irregularities” required reversal of Joseph’s involuntary commitment and submission of treatment. Read the whole case, In re Joseph P., 4-10-0346, 47 (12/22/10), by clicking here.