In re J.J.Annotate this Case
The Supreme Court held that Montana law does not preclude physical restraint of a seriously mentally ill individual during transportation from a courtroom to a hospital or mental health facility.
The district court ordered J.J., who suffered from severe and chronic mental illness, involuntarily committed to Montana State Hospital (MSH). Thereafter, J.J. requested that he not be handcuffed in the sheriff’s vehicle on the way to MSH. The district court denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that while Mont. Code Ann. 53-21-146 provides patients a statutory right to be free from physical restraint, nothing in the plain language of the statute leads to the conclusion that it applies to transportation. Further, Montana law enforcement officers owe the public a general duty to preserve the peace and protect the public from harm inflicted by third persons. Because J.J.’s potential for serious injury or harm was high and foreseeable, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it failed to grant J.J.’s request not to be handcuffed during transportation.