The Supreme Court
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1. The Supreme Court often makes final judgments on a wide variety of cases. How does their decision
affect the legislative review of the law or statute that was involved in the final decision? Discuss some of
the ramifications of this decision based on other social issues occurring at the time. When researching
and analyzing the issue of past judicial review; related to history of the court protecting the rights of the
mentally ill. It was apparent that there as very little done health revise legislature related to this issue.
The earliest court involvement in this matter took place in the 1970’s; At this time there was substantial
lawmaking efforts initiated. The purpose of this initiative was “securing the liberties of persons in the
mental health process”. However, as of recent there has been very little accomplished by the US
legislature and regulatory agencies in behalf of this effort. This has left the responsibility of providing
equality and justice for matters pertaining to the mentally disabled (local state and federal court
The issue is, though there are various unspecified provisions outlined in the US Constitution, the major
basis for court decision, has been individual interpretation of the US Constitution, examination of
evidence and the outcome of other litigations. Because of this fact , the application of caselaw; has
been influential in the creation of federal statutes and regulations. In addition, many trial cases appear
to have undergone appellate review. The data reviewed, is inclusive of federal courts of appeal and state
A case that is pertinent to this debate is O’Connor v. Donaldson, this case was decided by the
Supreme Court in 1975, and was the first “civil” mental case to reach the Court on the merits. “All
previous cases involved persons who had first been involved in the criminal process, and then been
diverted to the mental health system either because of incompetency to stand trial or commitment
after conviction to a “therapeutic,” rather than punitive, but decided them on procedural grounds or
summarily denied review or affirmed.” (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – 493 F.2d 507 (5th Cir.
1974)). Another case that can be referenced is The Kenneth Donaldson case of 1957 due to the fact
the that it emphasizes; the right to treatment. In this case the plaintiff Kenneth Donaldson, was
committed to Chattahoochee State Hospital in Florida and released 141/2 years later after filing for
release. To summarize, suit was filed on the grounds that he was reported as being denied treatment,
this right is implied but not specified by the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. “The Fifth Circuit
affirmed in a Far reaching opinion which elaborated a constitutional theory of the right to treatment.”
(493 F.2d 507 (5th Cir. 1974)).
The result was that the court declined to acknowledge the right-to-treatment issue; hence
this is why there is a need for the revision of legislation, related to mental health treatment provisions.
This type of situation, has been an ongoing issue since the 50’s and it deserves more attention from the
federal and state government. The failure of The Supreme Court, review more cases pertaining to that
of mental illness and make decisions that will contribute to case law research; which will be valuable to
argue the need for legislative revisions. Because of this failure on behalf of the judicial system, cases
such as that of Matthew Adjibade and Tony Lester reflect the future of community and judicial relations without the proper legislation.
In both cases, these individuals were mistreated, neglected and killed within the legal system. This is
indicative of the current dissatisfactory state of progress in relation to this matter. The judicial system
and proof of the detriment of the mentally ill, points back at the hands of the judicial/legal system.
There must be more done now! To protect this underserved population and the civil rights of these
individuals. The implementation of legislature can only be accomplished and enforced with the help of
the judicial system. The pros of this implementation will be the reduction of the following:
· risk of suicide
· risk for both psychiatric and medical hospitalization
· Exacerbation of physical problems
· Alcohol and/or drug abuse or dependence
· Wrongful Incarceration or inappropriate punishment for crimes
· Use of excessive force when detaining indivduals
· Mistreatment of inmates with mental illness
· Refusal of medical services and health management
· Improper Restraint and Documentation procedure
The Cons are that the implementation of legislature, revised policies and procedures and mental health screening process and community education. Will require more manpower and time. This may decrease operational production. But it will save lives.