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
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.
The above description of Joel’s Law is a summary only. The text of Joel’s Law can be found HERE.
CLICK HERE the state forms and instructions for initiating petitions under Joels’ Law.
Below is the form for the initial Order Directing Response from Designated Crisis Responder Agency Re: Involuntary Treatment. Complete this order and submit it with your Petition.
July 21, 2021
Superior Court Statement On Gradual Transition To In Person Appearances In Court
The Superior Court has indicated in its most recent masking order that in criminal proceedings there is a general presumption of personal appearance. Specifying a presumption in criminal matters is necessary to recognize the unique requirements of identity and presence for some criminal hearings. While the Court wants parties and counsel to start moving more toward in person appearances generally as we re-open, we recognize that this is a process that takes time, and that the Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders are still in effect allowing remote appearances where appropriate. Some counsel and/or their families have health concerns that make it appropriate to continue to appear remotely, as do some litigants. If Counsel, or a party has a reason to continue to appear remotely on any docket, and does not wish to state it on the record, they may contact Court Administration so that it can be communicated to the bench.
Court's Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
En respuesta a la nueva pandemia de coronavirus (o COVID-19), nuestros servicios estaran limitados
Click HERE for the latest information concerning the Court's response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Effective September 1, 2021 - 2021 Superior Court
Local Court Rules
Click HERE for a description of the Ex Parte process.
The Courts will be closed for Independence Day on Monday, July 5, 2021.
Please refer to the Court Holiday Schedule to see changes to regular calendar.
Click HERE for information and attestation form.
Superior Court Administration Benton County Justice Center
7122 W Okanogan Pl
Kennewick, WA 99336
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