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Bill would require confidentiality for rejected involuntary hospitalization petitions

Feb 24, 2016

Credit Joe Gratz / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Involuntary hospitalization petitions for mental health treatment must be kept confidential if a court denies them, according to a bill that passed unanimously this week in the Michigan House.

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, the bill's sponsor, said if a judge determines that there is a no need for treatment, the petition should not be available to the public because it could potentially harm people's lives.

'The law as it was written before was no good because everything was public – even the allegations of a revengeful ex-spouse and/or a disgruntled neighbor," said Lucido.

Lucido said he introduced the bill because of what happened to the son of one of his constituents. A court denied a petition for the man's involuntary commitment, but the petition was still publicly available.

"That record that was held there put those allegations in the petition, stigmatized him, put him in a position where he could not get employment," said Lucido.

Lucido said the bill would create consistency across the state in handling access to involuntary hospitalization petitions.

"Some courts are keeping them private, some keeping them public," said Lucido. "Now if a judge adjudicates it and says no need for treatment, now everybody has consistency and there's no more guesswork."

Lucido said court and law enforcement officials would still have access to the petitions, even those denied by the court.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.