Comment: Virginia "Green Warrant"

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Virginia "Green Warrant"

I haven't seen this posted, so here is the actual Virginia statute, known as a "green warrant", covering involuntary commitment, if that is what they did.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+37.2-809

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+37.2-816

Basically, if the authorities find that "the person (i) has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or (b) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs, (ii) is in need of hospitalization or treatment, and (iii) is unwilling to volunteer or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment." after a hearing can be held involuntarily for 72 hours.

As a bonus, the state will appoint a lawyer (paying them a princely $75, right) to represent them at the commitment hearing. But not to worry about a waste of taxpayers money the state can collect all costs back from the "patient".

Interestingly, the statute requires that the mental health individual certifying the existence of these conditions must be independent and not have any financial or family interest in the individual or the facility including employment *except* "vii) except for employees of state hospitals and of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs..." As I recall, he was committed to a VA hospital.

As a lawyer who practices in Chesterfield Co and has represented a couple of people in involuntary commitment proceedings I agree that this looks like hell for many of the same reasons articulated here by others. However, I would caution that there may be more to this story than has been reported so far (in my experience the press usually gets about 30% right). Lets not get over-invested before more is known. There may be more to this than is apparent now. For example, did he say anything more specific or otherwise act dangerously irrational? I don't know, but everyone is pretty touchy now.

I do think it is strange however about the "caution" that Chesterfield Co claims. A couple of years ago they filled a local attorney full of holes while he was acting irrationally in his own home.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/jan/29/chesterfield-...

I bet he wished he was just involuntarily committed.

Thetis