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My friend is scheduled for a probable cause hearing regarding his involuntary commitment in a psych ward. Lawyer?

Los Angeles, CA |

I will not go into details regarding the circumstances that brought him to the emergency room and led to his being placed in the psych ward. He has been evaluated by a doctor at the hospital. However, he was evaluated while being forced to take medication by the doctor writing the report. The side effects of the drugs were horrific. The doctor also had him in the most severe psych ward.

My friend is scheduled for what I believe is a probable cause hearing in two days. What should his family do to prepare for this hearing? He has a big supportive family and the incident that led to his being in the ER has never happened before. Should they hire a lawyer to assist the advocate? Do they need expert witnesses? Character witnesses? And how do they make this happen in two days?

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Attorney answers 2


You are correct in worrying that two days is a very limited time to hire an attorney and for the attorney to prepare a case. A large family would do best, however, to channel their efforts through an attorney. The family should have developed (or be developing) and alternate care plan in cooperation with mental health professionals.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


I agree with Attorney Poulson, a large family should do what a large family does best, support the individual through the process. It might be a good idea to appoint one person the family spokesman in order to address question that might arise and to approach the hospital.

To be honest, I believe the question of whether your should seek out consel at this point in the process should be asked of a local attorney. I can see reasons why it might help, and I can see how it might interfere with the advocate.

In addition, depending on the individual's competency, it might be wise to consider asking the court appoint a guardian should your relative be hospitalized for a period of time.

I am licensed in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and therefore any discussion of issues related to other states must considered within that context. In addition, my comments are not intended to create a legal representation but merely to respond to the limited facts presented by the question. Any opinion herein is not meant as a precise statement of legal rights or as a recommendation of any particular course of action. A more complete legal review can be obtained through local counsel.

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