Vol. LXXXIII, No. 28-S Ann Arbor, Michigan-Saturday, June 16, 1973 Ten Cents Eight Pages
Involuntary commitment: a threat to
mental patients' basic civl rights?
By REBECCA WARNER
Five weeks ago Karen was a Univer-
sity student living with her boyfriend in a
A week later she was an involuntary
patient at Ypsilanti State Hospital, com-
mitted by city police after they forced
their way into her apartment on a com-
plaint from her landlord.
- KAREN spent two long weeks in the
hospital before campus Legal Aid attor-
ney Jonathan Rose could obtain a court
order for her release.
Karen's experience sounds far-fetched,
but the same fate is an imminent , possi-
bility for many state residents. Michigan's
mental health statute permits temporary
diagnostic or detentive hospitalization for
up to 120 days before the patient receives
a mandatory court hearing.
The testimony of two physicians is all
that is required for temporary committ-
THERE ARE 10,000 involuntary com-
mitments in the state each year. But
many legal authorities, including state
attorney general Frank Kelley, question
the constitutionality of temporary hospita-
lization before a patient has legally been
found to be mentally ill.
Challenging the constitutionality of the
statute, local attorney Gabriel Kaimowitz
has brought the issue for consideration
before a three-judge panel appointed by
the Sixth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
After a year of what Kaimowitz calls
"procrastination" by the panel, the suit
is scheduled for a hearing in July.
Kaimowitz and Upper Peninsula attor-
ney Bill Easton are challenging the sta-
tute on behalf of two clients, both of whom
have been hospitalized under the tempor-
ary commitment clause.
"WE'RE ALLEGING that the 14th
amendment has been violated," Kaimo-
witz says. He claims mental patients'
rights to due process and equal protection
are denied by attempts to commit them
before rulings that they are mentally ill.
The suit contests the right of mental
institutions to treat patients - especially
to administer drugs - before they have
received consideration in a court hearing.
Kaimowitz also argues that several com-
mitment procedures are unconstitutional.
If the temporary commitment provision
is overturned, Kaimowitz says, involun-
tary commitment in the state will grind to
a halt. A similar ruling in Wisconsin last
year freed "hundreds and thousands of
"THE POINT IS there's no standard for
mental illness in Michigan," Kaimowitz
explains. "It's ambiguous and unclear.
Most - people are committed because
they're senile or because they're a bother
to other people, usually their relatives."
While commitments today are rarely
permanent, Kaimowitz says that patients
tend to "stay zombies on the outside" be-
cause of drug treatment. A primary rea-
son for re-commitment is refusal to take
Washtenaw County Probate Judge Rod-
ney Hutchinson is the man who presides
over all local commitment hearings and
orders'60 day temporary commitments at
the recommendation of doctors and rela-
See COMMITMENT, Page 5
to empty LA. of cars
Says private automobie must go
k-.The Environmental Protection Ag-
ency (EPA) yesterday proposed an
anti-smog plan for Los Angeles that
could force all cars off the streets
there by 1977.
The proposal came as the agency
approved a clean air plan for New
York City involving cutbacks on
cruising cabs and downtown park-
ing. Also proposed was a freeze on
"ithe gasoline supply for northern
New Jersey that could result in a 60
per cent reduction in driving in that
MEANWHILE, STATE REP. Raymond
- : 2Smit (K-Ann Arbor) has been called to
c T Washington to discuss with Nixon Admin-
W n siistration officials the possibility of his
'being namedeadministrator ofwthe EPA.
Acting utnder a federal law aimed at
significantly cleaning up the air around
major cities by 1975, the agency announc-
itt. ed its decision on plans submitted by23
states to meet that goal. It filly approved
only those for New York and Alabama,
but said it expected to approve later this
month those for Kansas, Missouri and
Louisiana. It either partially or complete-
ly rejected all the rest.
The complete ban on cars in Los An-
--- geles is a possibility, Acting EPA Admin-
istrator Fobert Fri said, because the air
there is already so bad that even the traf-
9 fice reduction measures may not help it.
fcrecinmsrsm nopAnd the EPA proposal that no gas could
AP Photo be sold in 1975 if it violated the clean air
A merian H nds!law would in effect mean that no gas
Middle American H ands?be'aal"ec *
would be available.
Spectators stretch their arms trying to shake the hand of President Nixon as he walked to his car after dedicating the
Everett McKinley Dirksen Research Center and Public Library in Pekin, Ill., yesterday. Shortly before the President's IN ADDITION TO Los Angeles, the EPA
arrival in the town square where the ceremony took place, two unidentified persons raised a sign saying, "Impeach Nixon." submitted its own proposals for some of
The crowd booed and police escorted the .two away for interrogation by Secret Service agents. See EPA, Page 5