Is a Person In Need of Involuntary Admission to Hospital Protected by Safeguards Contained In the Mental Hygiene Law ?

In Project Release v Prevost, 722 F2d 960 (2d Cir 1983), the court upheld the constitutionality of New York's voluntary, involuntary, and emergency commitment procedures contained in sections 9.13, 9.27, 9.37 and 9.39 of the Mental Hygiene Law. The court held that " 'the layers of professional and judicial review' contained in the New York State Mental Hygiene Law's elaborate notice and hearing provisions ... meet procedural due process minima citations omitted." (Id., at 975.) In the recent case of Charles W. v. Maul (214 F3d 350 2d Cir 2000) the court specifically noted the determination in Project Release (supra) that the 72-hour evaluation period of Mental Hygiene Law 9.13 was constitutional in finding that plaintiff's due process rights were not violated because the State's legitimate interests justified confining criminal defendants found incompetent to stand trial for a 72-hour evaluation period in order to determine whether they met the standards for civil commitment under the Mental Hygiene Law. The court held that "if anything, the state's interests in brief administrative confinement are stronger in the present case, where the charges against the incompetent defendant evidence his possible dangerousness." (Charles W. v. Maul, supra, at 359.) Similarly, a patient who is subject to an assisted outpatient treatment order has been adjudicated, upon clear and convincing evidence, a danger to self or others when failing to comply with treatment. Given this likelihood of dangerousness to self or others, it is this court's determination that the 72-hour evaluation period is a reasonable countermeasure under both the State's parens patriae and police powers. As stated in Mental Hygiene Law 9.60 (n), a patient who is determined to be in need of involuntary admission to the hospital would be protected by all of the procedural safeguards already contained within the Mental Hygiene Law.