Benton & Franklin Counties Superior Court
Benton & Franklin Counties Superior Court

Mental Health - Joel's Law

Background:  Joel’s Law is named after Joel Reuter.  According to testimony of the family, Joel was suicidal when Seattle police shot and killed him in 2013.  He had severe mental illness, and had been released from a hospital weeks earlier without mandatory follow-up treatment.  The family firmly believes that there would have been a different outcome if their son had received timely treatment.
 

Before Joel’s Law was enacted, involuntary civil commitments could only be initiated by a designated mental health professional (DMHP). A DMHP may detain a person if the DMHP determines that the person, as the result of a mental disorder, presents a likelihood of serious harm, or is gravely disabled.   (Those terms are defined below).  DMHP’s do not detain all persons with whom they come in contact.  Family and other interested persons sometimes disagree with the judgement of the DMHP.

 

Process:  Under Joel’s Law, an immediate family member, guardian, or conservator of a person may petition superior court for review of a DMHP decision to not detain a person for evaluation and treatment, or to not take action within 48 hours of a request for investigation. The petition must be submitted on forms developed by the courts and contain a sworn declaration from the petitioner (and other witnesses, if desired). The court must review the petition to determine whether it raises sufficient evidence to support the allegation. If there is not sufficient evidence, the petition will be dismissed.  If the court finds sufficient evidence, it will provide a copy of the petition to the DMHP and order the DMHP to provide the court and the petitioner with a written response within one judicial day.

 

Once the court receives the response from the DMHP, the court will review all availalble information.  If the court finds there is probable cause to support initial detention, and that the person has refused to accept evaluation and treatment voluntarily, the court may enter an order for initial detention. The court must issue a final ruling on the petition within five judicial days after it is filed. The DMHP must execute the order without delay.

 

Definitions:  “Likelihood of serious harm” means a substantial risk that the person will inflict serious harm on self or others as evidenced by behavior which has caused such harm or places another person in reasonable fear of sustaining such harm. “Gravely disabled” means that the person is in danger of serious physical harm based upon a failure to provide for their essential human needs of health or safety, or manifests severe deterioration in routine functioning and is not receiving care that is essential for health or safety.

Text of Joel's Law

The above description of Joel’s Law is a summary only.  The text of Joel’s Law can be found HERE.

Forms and Instructions for Joel's Law

CLICK HERE the forms and instructions for initiating petitions under Joels’ Law.

Ex Parte

Important Notice

The Court has revised its process for ex parte.  Click HERE to view Judicial Resolution 17-002 and related form.

Superior Court Administration Benton County Justice Center

7122 W Okanogan Pl

Building A

Kennewick, WA 99336

509-736-3071

 

Importance Notice

Fall Judicial Meeting will be on Friday, September 15, 2017. There will not be any proceedings that afternoon.

 

Fall Judicial Confereence will be September 18 through 20, 2017. There will not be any trials that week.

 

Veteran's Day will be on Friday, November 10, 2017. 

 

Please refer to Court Holiday Schedule to see changes to regular calendar.

         DISCLAIMER

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the Court’s information on the internet pages, the Benton and Franklin Counties Superior Courts cannot insure 100% accuracy.  The data and links are provided for informational purposes only and may not have been updated on the date you view it.  The Courts assume no liability for any legal consequences arising out of any information on these pages.

Print Print | Sitemap
© Benton Franklin Counties Superior Court