Mental health patients being denied human rights in court

(211 Posts)
HollyHB Sat 04-Jan-14 02:15:09

From www.independent.co.uk/
Emily Dugan, Social Affairs Correspondent, published Friday 03 January 2014

Brief, fair use excerpt:
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People with mental health problems are being denied justice by some Court of Protection judges who fail to even consider hearing patients’ testimony, leading lawyers have told a House of Lords inquiry.
...
Charlotte Haworth Hird, a solicitor who contributed to the submission, said that depriving patients of the right to speak for themselves “can lead to injustice”. She added: “Just because someone is deemed not to have capacity doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the chance to speak to the judge about an important decision affecting their lives.
...
The decisions of the court came under scrutiny earlier ... when it emerged Italian mother Alessandra Pacchieri had a caesarean section performed against her wishes and that her daughter was later taken into "care". ...
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It's good that they acknowledge that when people are denied opportunity to speak in their own defense when accused of being mental in an English Star Chamber secret court, it is not just the victim but her child or children who are denied justice also.

NoseWiperExtraordinaire Sat 04-Jan-14 14:41:47

Link to article

There is also “no specific training” for those charged with deciding if someone is capable of making their own life decisions, according to the submission. Training is an issue amongst judges too, particularly in the district courts. “There are some courts in which district judges have had no training in the Mental Capacity Act”, they said, adding: “This should not be acceptable.”

If true, that is unbelievable.

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 18:30:07

What do you mean by 'accused of being mental' ?

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 18:33:00

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Ahem, someone with a mental illness is not 'mental' as you defined her/him.

Please can we stop spreading these lies about mental health patients?
I can tell you're not making any favour to them, firsthand knowledge, unfortunately.

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LittleDoris Sat 04-Jan-14 18:38:14

You should have said "mentally ill" OP. Now the whole point of the thread will be ignored while everyone tells you what a horrible person you are.

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 18:41:34

Nope, genuine question. Had a client who had suffered catastrophic brain injury in RTA. She fluctuated from day to day, sometimes rational(ish) others, utterly delusional.

Does she come under category of 'mental'? Do you think she was able to make her own decisions?

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 18:46:37

NoseWiperExtraordinaire

If true, that is unbelievable.

No, it's not. As it is quite believable that police officers and investigators assigned to rape cases have no absolute knowledge about sexual assualt and abuse and treat rape victims like terrorists.
Firsthand knowledge about it too.

LittleDoris

Now the whole point of the thread will be ignored while everyone tells you what a horrible person you are.

Probably. I wish I could see more mental health patients to comment online on these threads because nobody can act like being in their shoes. However, I know very well that if someone jumps up saying "I'm a schizophrenic and I believe that...", the others wouldn't even care to listen to him/her.
Yes, many people think that mental health patients are mental. Totally untrue.

HollyHB Sat 04-Jan-14 18:57:15

"Mental" is a common (perhaps Northern) colloquialism for a person whose capacity to make sound decisions is severely impaired by a psychological disorder. It is much shorter to write "mental" than to write "with severely impaired capacity to make sound decisions due to a mental disorder" and almost everyone (though apparently not everyone) is familiar with commonplace English colloquialisms.

In this case, Alessandra Pacchieri was accused in the sense that it was suggested that she should forfeit the right to make decide her own medicine on account of her allegedly being mental. I think it is safe to assume she would have refuted such accusation if she had been aware of it at the time.

The human rights problem was that she never had any opportunity to testify in her own defense nor to confront her accusers. Moreover her trial was conducted in secret and in absentia. All of which is incompatible with both the UDHR and the ECHR. It appears she was represented, more exactly mis-represented, by a lawyer who never even met with her to discuss her jeopardy.

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 19:01:55

The human rights problem was that she never had any opportunity to testify in her own defense nor to confront her accusers.

Judge Munby asserted differently. Question is: do we want to keep to buy the crap printed by the papers or do we plug our brains and start doing some proper research on our own?
I chose the second option, sorry.

"Mental" is a common (perhaps Northern) colloquialism for a person whose capacity to make sound decisions is severely impaired by a psychological disorder.

In American 'mental' means stupid. Please take into account that not all members could be British.

And given that I heard the assertion mentally ill equals stupid very often, I'd like to point out that is not true.

Tiredemma Sat 04-Jan-14 19:07:59

Mental" is a common (perhaps Northern) colloquialism for a person whose capacity to make sound decisions is severely impaired by a psychological disorder. It is much shorter to write "mental" than to write "with severely impaired capacity to make sound decisions due to a mental disorder" and almost everyone (though apparently not everyone) is familiar with commonplace English colloquialisms

erm. No it isnt. I work in the mental health service- specifically in criminal justice. We do not describe someone as literally 'mental'. We would state that they appear to be suffering with mental illness or disorder- not just state 'mental'. I would get some frowns from my colleagues if I assessed someone in prison or police station and came back saying 'they are mental'

I may be missing the point here (very sleep deprived).

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 19:10:01

But Alessandra Pacchieri was really very ill. She was so ill she was sectioned. She was suffering the consequences of once again failing to take the medication to control her very serious mental illness. She was delusional.

I am sorry, I really don't understand what is going on here.

Do you really think seriously mentally ill people should just be dropped off at court and told to make their case?

I agree that whereever possible people ought to be able to address directly a judge who is making a decision about them or their children, but do you accept that some people are just too ill at times to be able to make any use of this opportunity?

Isn't it good that we live in a country that tries to protect the vulnerable, and not just assume the mentally ill can manage court proceedings without help?

IamtheZombie Sat 04-Jan-14 19:13:40

In Zombie's experience and opinion 'mental' is almost exclusively used as a derogotory term. She finds it offensive.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Sat 04-Jan-14 19:14:55

As a Northern lass myself, I find your assertions that "mental" is a normal term of reference in this neck of the woods to be erroneous.

As one of those "mental" people, I am actually very pleased to know that if I were very ill and delusional, someone who was going to act in my best interests would be required to speak for me. In what world would I want to defend myself when my defence would be gibberish? I feel very strongly that speaking for myself in such a circumstance would do more harm than good, and your concern over it is quite perplexing.

LittleDoris Sat 04-Jan-14 19:20:28

I agree that whereever possible people ought to be able to address directly a judge who is making a decision about them or their children, but do you accept that some people are just too ill at times to be able to make any use of this opportunity?

The problem for me is, do I trust the person that deemed the person too ill? And I'm afraid, I don't. Why should a judge? Why shouldn't s/he be making the decision her/himself?

Personally, secret CP hearings and Sections terrify me. Absolutely terrify. A group of people assess a person, and they are then incapable of explaining their life as they see it? Even if they are delusional, or too ill, they should still have the opportunity.

LittleDoris Sat 04-Jan-14 19:24:27

And in the case of the italian woman, the only interests that were being considered were those of the child. As in all CP cases.

Was anyone truly acting in the mothers best interests? Her representation hadn't even met her.

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 19:27:09

Alessandra Pacchieri was represented by the Official Solicitor who instructed a family QC to represent her in court. All this on tax payers money.

Rather than being ashamed of our system I am actually quite proud of it.

I am sorry it makes you so frightened. If it helps, decisions about capacity are not made lightly. It is obviously a very serious matter and is kept under constant review. That is what the Court of Protection is for - to safeguard the vulnerable.

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 19:28:34

If someone is psychotic, what benefit is there going to be for that person in meeting their lawyer? How are these two people going to communicate and meaningfully engage? What if the person suffering psychosis found it confusing and/or frightening? What would be the point? Who would that help?

HollyHB Sat 04-Jan-14 19:29:16

Spero wrote: But Alessandra Pacchieri was really very ill. She was so ill she was sectioned. She was suffering the consequences of once again failing to take the medication to control her very serious mental illness. She was delusional.

I submit that it was never intended that human rights be limited to only people who are healthy. And I am glad that this is being pointed out to the House of Lords enquiry.

When considering that she was deprived of basic human rights by the Star Chamber (another colloquialism) it is moot as to whether she could have usefully availed herself of an opportunity to speak in her own defense. And it is also moot as to whether her plea (if she had been allowed to make it) would or would not have been persuasive.

Perhaps the people you smear are indeed capable of "telling their case". What matters is that they have the opportunity of refuting allegations and confronting accusers in person.

Spero Sat 04-Jan-14 19:32:59

But Holly what do you suggest we do? Simply take every mentally ill person to court? What about the people who are just too ill?

Don't we as a society owe it to the vulnerable to try to protect them?

Of course we need to be alert to when protection slides into unhelpful paternalism.

But your arguments only hold water if we accept they are based on the premise that the state agencies who try to protect the vulnerable are essentially corrupt.

I reject that premise and have never been shown any evidence to convince me otherwise.

LittleDoris Sat 04-Jan-14 19:37:16

Its easy to underestimate the need to be heard when one is involved in something like this.

I had SS involvement a few years ago, and the lack of being listened to was panic inducing. There were conclusions drawn and facts twisted about my life by people who had spent 5 minutes in a room with me on a Monday after they had eaten their lunch and called their boyfriend. I wasn't a person, just the next task in their day.

We are more complicated than anything anyone can write down in a report, and I will always believe that if a person wants to have their say, they should be given the opportunity, no matter how incapable they are deemed to be.

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 19:39:44

LittleDoris

^Was anyone truly acting in the mothers best interests? Her representation hadn't even met her.*

She was lucky. If she had what she had in Italy, she's probably be confined in a psychiatric ward of a prison.

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 19:41:54

LittleDoris

Its easy to underestimate the need to be heard when one is involved in something like this

Yes, again that is the same for abuse and rape victims though.

Are abuse and rape victims children of a lesser God or don't they fit correctly into any political agenda nowadays?

Lioninthesun Sat 04-Jan-14 19:43:10

BeyondTheLimitsOfAcceptability Sat 04-Jan-14 19:19:56
As one of those "mental" people, I am actually very pleased to know that if I were very ill and delusional, someone who was going to act in my best interests would be required to speak for me. In what world would I want to defend myself when my defence would be gibberish? I feel very strongly that speaking for myself in such a circumstance would do more harm than good, and your concern over it is quite perplexing.

This ^
My best friend from school suffers with mental illness and I know that she would also not like to be given options when in a very confused state. It is certainly not in anyone's best interests to treat someone going through a mental episode as if they were not.

LakeDistrictBabe Sat 04-Jan-14 19:43:17

@BeyondTheLimits

As one of those "mental" people, I am actually very pleased to know that if I were very ill and delusional, someone who was going to act in my best interests would be required to speak for me. In what world would I want to defend myself when my defence would be gibberish? I feel very strongly that speaking for myself in such a circumstance would do more harm than good, and your concern over it is quite perplexing.

thanksthanksthanksthanksthanks

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