Oregon State Hospital v. Butts

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 10-08-2015
  • Case #: S063003
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Baldwin, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 161.370, trial courts have the authority to commit a defendant to a hospital for treatment to help the defendant regain fitness to stand trial. ORS 161.370 impliedly grants trial courts authority to issue Sell orders, whether or not a doctor agrees that treatment is necessary.

In this mandamus proceeding, Oregon State Hospital (OHS) challenged the validity of a Sell order issued by the trial court pursuant to ORS 161.370. The court issued an alternative writ of mandamus after OHS filed the mandamus proceeding. A Sell order is a court order directing the involuntary administration of antipsychotic drugs to a defendant who is mentally incompetent to stand trial in accordance with the due process requirements articulated in Sell v. United States, 539 US 166, 123 S Ct 2174 (2003). OHS argued that while the trial court has the authority under ORS 161.370 to make a factual determination about whether a defendant is fit to stand trial and to issue a Sell order once it has made that determination, OHS has the exclusive authority to make treatment decisions, including whether and what, medication is necessary to treat the defendant. The Court held that ORS 161.370 grants the trial court implied authority to issue a Sell order after assessing the relevant medical evidence, whether or not OHS believes the medication is necessary, and OHS has a duty to comply with the order. The Court found that because ORS 161.370 grants trial courts authority to commit defendants to hospitals for treatment to restore a defendant’s mental faculties to stand trial, it impliedly grants trial courts the authority to issue Sell orders when necessary to enable hospitals to provide that treatment to ensure the speedy, efficient workings of the legal system. The alternative writ of mandamus was dismissed.

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