The Legal Advocacy Service helps to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities in the following ways:
Court Hearings for Involuntary Admission
LAS staff attorneys represent persons who are named in petitions for involuntary admission to a mental health or developmental disability facility. LAS is automatically appointed to represent all such persons in those counties where a state-operated mental health facility is located. In addition to representing persons in the trial court, LAS is also often appointed to represent persons who wish to appeal their civil commitment orders to the state's Appellate and Supreme Courts.
Court Hearings for Involuntary Psychotropic Medication and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
LAS staff attorneys also represent persons who are named in petitions for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication and ECT.
In response to inquiries or complaints from persons with disabilities, LAS attorneys answer questions about mental health law and may conduct investigations into allegations that the law has been violated.
Notices of Restraint and Seclusion
Persons in mental health and developmental disability facilities are entitled to notify LAS whenever they are restrained or secluded. When notified, LAS will investigate the circumstances leading up to the use of restraint or seclusion and determine whether the use of restraint or seclusion was in compliance with the law.
Utilization Review Hearings
Persons in state-operated mental health or developmental disability facilities have the right to request administrative hearings whenever they are to be transferred or discharged over their objection. LAS attorneys represent persons in these hearings.
In the Interest of M.L. and P.W. Consent Decree
Pursuant to a consent decree entered by the Cook County Circuit Court, LAS serves as counsel for Cook County Department of Children and Family Services wards upon their admission to an acute care mental health or developmental disability facility.
Advanced Directives for Mental Health Treatment
There are two types of legal documents that allow persons to make decisions about their future mental health treatment. LAS staff attorneys can provide information about these documents and can assist interested persons in completing one of these documents.
Court Hearings for the Termination of Parental Rights
LAS may be court-appointed to represent persons with mental illnesses who are alleged to be unfit parents and who are named in petitions to terminate their parental rights.
Upon request, LAS attorneys give oral presentations about the work of the Commission and about mental health law to consumers, health care providers, members of community groups, advocates, and law school students.