Involuntary commitment order; reduces length of time a person can appeal to circuit court. (SB63)

Introduced By

Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Involuntary commitment, certification, and mandatory outpatient treatment orders; appeals. Reduces from 30 to 10 days the length of time for a person to appeal to circuit court an order for involuntarily commitment, mandatory outpatient treatment, or certification for admission to a training center. The bill also provides that an appeal does not operate to suspend any such order unless so ordered by a judge or special justice. The bill further provides that an order of the circuit court shall not extend the duration of involuntary admission or mandatory outpatient treatment set forth in the order appealed from. The bill also clarifies that the appeal shall be heard in accordance with the same provisions applicable to the original order. The bill also clarifies the role of the attorney for the Commonwealth in the appeal of such an order. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/04/2010Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/10 10102685D
01/04/2010Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/18/2010Assigned Courts sub: Mental Health
02/08/2010Assigned Courts sub: Civil
02/15/2010Committee substitute printed 10105346D-S1
02/15/2010Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (13-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2010Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2010Read second time
02/16/2010Reading of substitute waived
02/16/2010Committee substitute agreed to 10105346D-S1
02/16/2010Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB63S1
02/16/2010Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2010Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/18/2010Placed on Calendar
02/18/2010Read first time
02/18/2010Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/19/2010Assigned Courts sub: #3 Mental Health
03/05/2010Subcommittee recommends reporting (6-Y 0-N)
03/08/2010Reported from Courts of Justice (21-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/09/2010Read second time
03/09/2010Constitutional reading dispensed BLOCK VOTE (96-Y 0-N)
03/09/2010VOTE: --- AGREE TO (96-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/09/2010Motion to reconsider constitutional reading dispensed agreed to
03/09/2010Constitutional reading dispensed BLOCK VOTE (94-Y 0-N)
03/09/2010VOTE: --- ADOPTION #2 (94-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/09/2010Passed House BLOCK VOTE (95-Y 0-N)
03/09/2010VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (95-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/13/2010Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB63ER)
03/14/2010Signed by Speaker
03/15/2010Signed by President
04/11/2010G Approved by Governor-Chapter 591 (effective 7/1/10)
04/11/2010G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0591)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB247.


Jack F., tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

10 days is not enough time for someone to appeal an inpatient committment. Having Commonwealth Attorney's act as the opposing side against attorneys paid 75 dollars a case is de facto prejudicial against the appellant. Using Commonwealth Attorneys also criminalizes mental illness or it's misdiagnosis. This is a regressive bill coming from a progressive, I am surprised.

Fred Sterling writes:

Commonwealth's Attorneys are already overloaded and under-budgeted and are cutting back on prosecutions, what kind of sense does it make to add these civil cases to their work load, just to take away more civil rights? And what if the Commonwealth's Attorney does not agree with the commitment order, where is their usual discretion on choice of whether to prosecute? This will take power away from Commonwealth's Attorneys and make them agents of the psychiatric system. A very bad precedent. What other cases can the state tell a Commonwealth's Attorney to prosecute whether they agree or not? None that of which I am aware.

Jack Ford writes:

The amendment makes the appeal process a complete joke, if the original evaluation can be used than the person appealing has no chance in court at all, especially up against a commonwealth's attorney with a court appointed 75 dollar attorney as his or her lawyer. I guess the G.A. wants no civil rights at all for people with disabilities anymore. Welcome to the new era of psychiatrists as police, judge and wardens of any Virginia citizen's freedom. Well, actually a nurse specialist can be the police and judge too under another law passing. When will the G.A. stop or is it trying to create a new class of non-citizens?

Susan Lawrence writes:

Doctors don't even have to evaluate patients fully within 10 days, and if the patient is not stable, it could take up to 2 weeks for the medications they are being treated with to stabilize them, but by they, at 10 days, they will have missed their opportunity to appeal.

Jack Ford writes:

And if they are misdiagnosed and put on medications that make them worse they will be in worse shape than when they went in and won't have it together to call and hire a lawyer within that time frame. I think the point of this legislation is to eliminate any possibility of appeals at all outside of the system so that the general public will continue to be ignorant of the way this system works. Juries are ordinary people and if they sat on enough of these appeals they would learn a lot about what really goes on in our psychiatric system, especially private hospitals......

Susan Lawrence writes:

This bill will benefit Psychiatric Solutions Inc. as they complete their monopoly game of taking over Virginia's mental health accute services and residential services. As PSI takes over acute care facilities in the state (i.e. CCCA for juveniles) this bill will allow PSI to quickly pipeline adults and children into their facilities and allow any possibility of appeal to expire while the child or adult in still dealing with a crisis situation. This is not a denial of assistance or services during a daily event or life. A commitment occurs during a crisis situation which will not have even begun to settle down or be appropriately treated within 10 days. PSI is not competent to provide the therapeutic services needed by Virginia's children and adults. Please look at this one (of many) report regarding the dangers and deaths faced by PSI patients all across Virginia.
Take a look at the size of PSI in Virginia - some dots represent 3-4 facilities-
Please do not change the time frame for an appeal from 30 to 10. Please leave it at 30 to allow the patient to stabilize.

Jack Ford writes:

There is a good amendment just added to this bill yesterday: " however, a person may be released after a petition for or during the pendency of an appeal" which means I think for the first time in Virginia history someone can appeal an involuntary commitment after their dicharge, i.e. it won't be moot and for the first time we could have court opinions and precedents on involuntary commitment. In other states these have often benefited the population most vulnerable to wrongful or unnecessary commitment. Maybe the 7 days is to make this more tenable/possible? Wish a lawyer would weigh in :)

Susan Lawrence writes:

Residential centers like Psychiatric Solutions Inc. look at mentally ill patients the way Colonel Sanders looks at chickens. Leave the appeal time at 30 days AND include the above amendment.