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 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.

Order Directing Response from Designated Crisis Responder Agency Re: Involuntary Treatment
Order Directing DCR Response 2-04-2020.d[...]
Microsoft Word document [74.1 KB]

August 23, 2021

Superior Court Statement On Appearances In Court In Light of Governor's Order to Mask

The Superior Court is withdrawing this prior general presumption of personal appearance at hearings to address concerns regarding the Delta variant of Covid-19.  The Court’s order can be found HERE.  In light of the Governor’s Order that all individuals who enter buildings wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, it is appropriate for individuals who can appear remotely to do so if they wish.  The Courtrooms remain open to the public with capacity limits and the requirement of masking for all.  In some criminal matters it is necessary to require the presence the Defendant or Respondent.. Those who wish the opportunity to appear remotely via WebEx must ensure that their connection is sufficient to be heard and/or seen, and that their appearance and behavior during a hearing is appropriate for the Courtroom.

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  

2021 Benton & Franklin Counties Superior Court Local Court Rules
2021 Benton Franklin Counties Local Cou[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [1.4 MB]

Ex Parte

Important Notice

 Click HERE for a description of the Ex Parte process.

Holiday Schedule

The Courts will be closed for Labor Day on Monday, September 6, 2021. 



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


Arbitrator Eligibility

Important Notice

Click HERE for information and attestation form.

Superior Court Administration Benton County Justice Center

7122 W Okanogan Pl

Building A

Kennewick, WA 99336




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