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Mental Health Case Law: Psychological Experts: Illinois Divorce

Opinion Date: March 12, 2024

Areas of Law: Family Law, Mental Health Law

This case involves an appeal against a judgment from the Montana Eighteenth Judicial District Court, Gallatin County, which committed the appellant, G.M., into the custody and care of the Montana State Hospital (MSH) for involuntary mental health treatment. The key issue at hand is whether the District Court erroneously found that G.M. was unable to adequately care for her own basic needs and safety based on hearsay statements made by her husband through the testimony of a court-appointed professional.

G.M., aged 66 at the time of the petition for involuntary mental health commitment in 2021, was alleged to be suffering from a diagnosed psychotic mental disorder. G.M.’s husband’s statements, along with her own behavior and assessments from mental health professionals, were the basis for the court’s decision. G.M.’s counsel repeatedly objected to the court-appointed professional’s testimony regarding her husband’s out-of-court statements, but these objections were overruled.

G.M. testified on her own behalf, denying having a mental disorder or requiring treatment. Despite this, the District Court found that due to her diagnosed schizophrenic and delusional mental disorder, G.M. was “substantially unable to provide for her own basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, or safety.”

On appeal, the Supreme Court of the State of Montana affirmed the judgment of the lower court. The court found that the lower court’s decision was not clearly erroneous and was supported by substantial admissible evidence. The court stated that the hearsay statements of G.M.’s husband were admissible under the rules of evidence to explain the underlying rationale for the court-appointed professional person’s expert opinion. The court also noted that the judgment was independently supported by the professional person’s personal observations and opinions on G.M.’s condition and ability to care for her own needs and safety.

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