UPDATE: Should Commitment Hearings be Held in Hospitals or Court Rooms?
In August, we wrote about a commitment hearing involving Solomon Carter Fuller Medical Center that has given rise to an important question: Should the default location for commitment hearings be a formal court room (as opposed to a makeshift one in a hospital)? One of the reasons it came up in relation to this particular case is that the recording equipment at the hospital had failed during the hearing causing a variety of issues. However, when we reached out to our community and asked them what they thought, many other reasons were offered including the simple fact that holding a hearing in a hospital is likely to add to the bias and assumption that the individual in the hospital belongs and should stay there. In other words, in order to improve the chances of a fair hearing and ensure due process of law, a court setting is required.
Attorney Susan Stefan worked with the Western Mass RLC and a host of others to develop an Amicus brief arguing for the state to recognize the importance of commitment hearings being held in court rooms. On October 1st, this issue will go before the Supreme Court. Hearing details:
October 1, 9am @ John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108
You can find the link to the docket HERE.
We have been informed that – while we will not be able to testify – it is valuable to have people show up to witness the hearing as a way to silently communicate to the court that this issue is important.
Please note: While our presence is important, it is also important that people do not protest or become disruptive as this will be counter-productive to our cause. Additionally, please be aware that there are multiple cases on the docket for the morning of October 1, and this particular issue may be addressed at any point between 9am and 1pm.
Want to read more? Below are links to the Amicus Brief mentioned above, and documents filed the state in favor of continuing to hold hearings in the hospital!
Amicus Brief composed by Susan Stefan in collaboration with the Wetern Mass RLC et al.
Brief representing the position of the individual (appellant) committed to the hospital
Brief representing the state (who initiated the commitment/argues to be allowed to hold hearings in hospitals)