This case involved another dispute about whether an involuntary commitment to a hospital and administration of psychotropic drugs was proper. James H. was diagnosed as schizophrenic. The State’s psychiatrist considered James to be a threat to himself and to the public.
James was admitted to a hospital against his wishes for 90 days. He disputed the commitment, but by the time his case was heard in the appellate court, it was moot because the 90-day commitment period lapsed. So the first question for the appellate court, as it is with so many involuntary commitment cases, was whether the mootness doctrine prohibited the court from considering the dispute.
James argued the collateral-consequences exception to the mootness doctrine allowed the appellate court to review his case. “This exception applies where the respondent [James] could be plagued by the adjudication at issue … Respondent argues if faced with civil commitment again, having once been judged mentally ill and in need of commitment, he would now have a history of mental illness which would work against him.” The record showed that James previously had been hospitalized because of mental problems, but it was unclear whether that hospitalization was involuntary.