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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mentally Ill Win|Round Against City

ALBUQUERQUE (CN) - The Court of Appeals for New Mexico affirmed a district court injunction prohibiting enforcement of an Albuquerque ordinance that allows people to request outpatient treatment for mentally ill family members that have a dangerous relapse.

Judge Sutin found that the State Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code and the Mental Health Care Treatment Decisions Act preempt the city ordinance.

The ordinance would have allowed family members to obtain court-ordered treatment such as blood tests, alcohol and substance abuse treatment and medication for the mentally ill.

Unidentified adult plaintiffs who filed for the declaratory judgment are all Albuquerque residents diagnosed with mental illnesses. They claim the city ordinance would force them to undergo invasive measures without consent.

The Code states, "No psychotropic medication, psychosurgery, convulsive therapy, experimental treatment or behavior modification program involving aversive stimuli or substantial deprivations shall be administered to any client without proper consent. If the client is capable of understanding the proposed nature of treatment and its consequences and is capable of informed consent, his consent shall be obtained before the treatment is performed."

Sutin found that the ordinance conflicts with the Code and the Act because "the Ordinance does not require that an individual lack capacity in order to be subject to the Ordinance." Sutin concluded that the Code and the Act create a comprehensive scheme that addresses mental health and preempts the city ordinance.

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