"The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) occasionally publishes its version of the Oklahoma Mental Health Code, Title 43A. On its web site, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services lists section 5-401 of Title 43A, the Oklahoma Mental Health Code as "Repealed", and ignores its provisions. It has done so for a number of years.
circa 2003: http://www.odmhsas.org/emer_rule/2003%20-%2043A.pdf
circa 2006: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6532648/Oklahoma-Mental-Health-Laws
circa 2007: http://www.ok.gov/odmhsas/documents/Title 43A Mental Health Law.pdf
circa 2010: http://www.ok.gov/odmhsas/documents/2010%20-%2043A.pdf
Nor is it alone. So do the local District Court, the District Attorney and Public Defender's Office here in Tulsa. Yet the official version on the Oklahoma Legislature site says,
"§43A-5-401. Repealed by Laws 1997, c. 387, § 11, eff. Nov. 1, 1997. >NOTE: Subsequent to repeal, § 5-401 was amended by Laws 1997, c. 195, § >3 to read as follows:"
Where I went to junior high, "subsequent" means "after". The numerous provisions that dictate what officials involved in involuntary commitment shall do includes §43A-5-401.D.1, which states:
“The attorney appointed by the court shall be a licensed and actively practicing attorney who shall represent the person alleged to be a person requiring treatment until final disposition of the case. The court may appoint a public defender where available. The attorney shall meet and consult with the person within one (1) day of notification of his appointment. The attorney shall immediately, upon meeting with the person alleged to be a person requiring treatment, present to such person a statement of the person's rights, including all rights afforded to the person by the Oklahoma and United States Constitutions. …”
It is substantially repeated in §43A-5-411.D.1, under Rights of Person Alleged to be a Person Requiring Treatment, which ODMHSAS does not list as “Repealed”. However, the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health (TCBH), the Tulsa County Mental Health Court, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney treat such “consumer rights” more as mere guidelines that can be ignored for convenience’s sake, rather than things they shall observe.
This is important because, among other things, the right to a jury trial must be “requested” or “demanded”. This not likely to happen if neither the Public Defender’s Office nor the Mental Health Court Judge ever mentions it to the person alleged to need treatment. A jury trial provides under §43A-5-411.D
“6. The right to present and to cross-examine witnesses. The petitioner and witnesses identified in the petition shall offer testimony under oath at the hearing on the petition. When the hearing is conducted as a jury trial, the petitioner and any witness in behalf of the petitioner shall be subject to cross-examination by the attorney for the person alleged to be a person requiring treatment. The person alleged to be a person requiring treatment may also be called as a witness and cross-examined.”
Otherwise, under Tulsa County Mental Health Court procedures in the fall of 2010, the only testimony comes from the person alleged to need treatment, and that person does not get to see any evidence against him or her, have accusers appear in Court and give statements sworn under the penalties of perjury, cross-examine either accusers or mental health examiners or witnesses for the District Attorney or to present witnesses in his or her own defense, not even doctors and/or psychiatrists of long-standing. Without a jury trial, the Judge may under 43A consider the evaluations of the State’s psychiatrists without reference to any other source. The State psychiatrists don’t even have to show up at any hearing. This leaves the person alleged to need treatment entirely at the mercy of ODMHSAS/TCBH and the Mental Health Court, which in this place tends to act as a rubber stamp for ODMHSAS psychiatrists.
From what one has seen, the Public Defender’s Office explains very little about one’s rights under the State and Federal constitutions. The right to demand a jury trial is one sentence, buried on one page of one court document that did not, in August 2010, explicitly identify the person alleged to need treatment as the person who has that right. I complained bitterly about getting railroaded without any witnesses, for or against, appearing to be cross-examined. I did not find out about these provisions, and the consequence of not demanding a jury trial, until conducting my own research after my release. The Public Defender’s Office seems to be willing to go along to get along, and not waste too much time and expense on people that the local authorities have written off as “losers”, regardless of the proof or truth of any allegations, or lack thereof.
By contrast, in about 1995, the JOINT LEGISLATIVE AUDIT AND REVIEW COMMISSION OF THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY wrote some 37 Recommendations on how to improve the efficiency and due process of involuntary commitment in that State. Consider
"Recommendation (22). The Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services should develop a written booklet which explains the involuntary mental commitment process and an individual’s rights within that process. Included within the booklet should be an explanation of the individual’s right to retain private counsel or be represented by a court-appointed attorney, to present any defenses including independent evaluation and expert testimony or the testimony of other witnesses, to be present during the hearing and testify, to appeal any certification for involuntary admission to the circuit court, and to have a jury trial on appeal. The booklet should be written in a simple and straight-forward manner."
One might note that the State of Virginia had some little thing to do with writing the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Would that Oklahoma could follow its example. But in Tulsa, both TCBH and the District Attorney’s Office insisted, and the Mental Health Court accepted, that all it takes to commit someone involuntarily is “a preponderance of the evidence”, not the higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence” both written into Title 43A in eight locations, and mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1979 Addington v. Texas case. But in Tulsa, if by hearsay three people reportedly get together and say you’re nuts, then that is “a preponderance of the evidence”, and accepted thereafter as proven fact. In most cases, accusers may not even have to make out a sworn statement, which the person alleged to need treatment may not be allowed to see, even if they do.
Isn’t that just special? So watch your back. And try not to look paranoid about it. "