Supreme Court finds involuntary medication statute facially unconstitutional.

 
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Byline: Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided a Wisconsin statute allowing involuntary medication of inmates is facially unconstitutional under certain circumstances.

The high court reviewed Winnebago County v. C.S., who is aman diagnosed with schizophrenia. While in prison, C.S. was committed and found incompetent to refuse medication pursuant toWis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g). He then became subject to various court orders calling for involuntary medication.

C.S. was released from prison in 2015 and filed a motion for postcommitment relief, arguingWis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g) was facially unconstitutional when an inmateis committed underWis. Stat. 51.20(1)(ar) without being found dangerous.

Acircuit court and the appellate court found the statute was facially constitutional, but a state Supreme Court majority disagreed. On Friday, the state Supreme Court announced it was reversing the Court of Appeal's decision and remanding the caseto the circuit court with an order to vacate C.S.'s June 2015 order for involuntary medication and treatment.

Justice Annette Ziegler delivered the majority opinion and was joined by JusticesAnn Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Dan Kelly.

Ziegler said the crux of the issue in the case wasC.S.'s argument that Wis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g)is facially unconstitutional when an inmateis committed under Wis. Stat. 51.20(1)(ar), which does not require a finding of dangerousness.

The county had argued that Wis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g)3 invokes itsparens patriae power. The county said it had a legitimate interest in caring for and helping an inmate who was mentally ill and found incompetent.

"We reject such limitless assertions of the State's power to involuntarily medicate committed inmates," Ziegler wrote.

Ziegler saidthe state's parens patriae power is related todangerousness, but thepart of Wis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g)3.under review is not.

"Incompetence to refuse medication alone is not an essential or overriding...

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