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If you have a civil commitment case and your attorney doesn't represent you correctly, can you appeal that case?

Croton On Hudson, NY |

A long story, but just learning so much more in fact just learning the attorney that I hired to defend me in a psychiatric civil commitment case never filed with the court to let them know that she was representing me. This case has so many faults but to find out that my attorney that I found out never filed with the court and that they were filed as mental health hygiene lawyers just puts the icing on the cake. I think it may have to do with that she was the hospital lawyer a very long time ago and I just found out that she should have never taken my case. I also found out that I had the right to an automatic appeal but since my attorney never contacted me after the hearing to let me know of the decision I didn't know that. Can I get an appeal on this case?

After reading over the petition again it became apparent that the hospital knowingly made false statements on the petition, to petition the court to have a MHLS lawyer knowing I had a private attorney. In addition, the judge ordered that the show of cause be served upon a member of MHLS, none of which I ever signed a HIPPA release form to or spoke to anyone there and supposedly there are affadavits supporting this according to the petition because the judge ordered them. I went yesterday to the court to get the transcript of my hearing and all documents pertaining to this matter and it's sealed. I have to go before the judge to show a motion of cause in order to get my records. I can't afford another attorney! Because of this hospital I have had to pay for a different attorney to get me back into school due to the psychiatrist breaking HIPPA laws.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. No. Ineffective assistance of counsel may be used as a point on appeal, but you don't explain whether a judge committed you after a hearing or some other way (voluntary or informal). I'll assume you had a hearing.

    You are entitled to object to your commuttment and you have a right to appeal to the mental health director or have a court review your committment.

    I know this is a hollow answer because I am not sure exactly how you were committed.

    Good luck.


  2. You may be able to make a motion to file a late appeal.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


  3. You should contact another attorney who handles mental health cases as soon as possible to review your case. It may be possible to make a motion to reopen this case or it may have to go to an appeal, depending on the facts in this case. I have no way to know whether a motion is permissible because I don't know the facts of your case. Seek out competent legal counsel as soon as possible. Best of luck to you.

    If you found my answer to be "HELPFUL," or the "BEST ANSWER," please feel free to mark it accordingly. The answers provided here do not, under any circumstances, create a lawyer-client relationship and are provided to supply a general answer based on the facts as given by the author. The above attorney is not giving advice but is answering the question in general terms. At all times, the above attorney will advise the author of the question to seek independent legal counsel. The above answers should not be relied upon by the author or by anyone else for the authoritative answer to the question; consult with your own lawyer for your legal questions.

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