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In re MH2014-002674

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

September 3, 2015

IN RE MH2014-002674

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No. MH2014-002674. The Honorable Susan G. White, Judge Pro Tempore.

Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office, Phoenix, By Anne Phillips, Counsel for Appellant.

Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix, By Anne C. Longo, Bruce P. White. Counsel for Appellee.

Maurice Portley, Judge delivered the Opinion of the Court, in which Patricia K. Norris, Presiding Judge and Patricia A. Orozco, Judge joined.

OPINION

Page 610

Maurice Portley, Judge.

[¶1] Appellant, who is deaf, challenges the trial court's order that she undergo a combination of inpatient and outpatient treatment at a mental health treatment facility. She argues that her statutorily defined due process rights were violated because the court-ordered evaluations were conducted through written communications despite her request for an American Sign Language (" ASL" ) interpreter. Because a reasonable attempt was made to secure an ASL interpreter and Appellant effectively communicated with both evaluating doctors during the evaluations, we find no due process violation and affirm the court's order.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶2] After Appellant refused voluntary inpatient treatment to stabilize her condition, her psychiatrist filed a petition for court-ordered evaluation in August 2011 alleging that Appellant was persistently or acutely disabled as a result of a mental disorder. The court granted the petition and, based on Appellant's request, also ordered the Court Interpretation and Translation Services office to provide an ASL interpreter.

[¶3] Appellant renewed her request for an ASL interpreter the next day before she was interviewed by two psychiatrists, Dr. Michael Hughes, who was on her outpatient treatment team, and Dr. Sead Hadziahmetovic. The hospital social worker attempted to get an ASL interpreter, but one was not available during the time the doctors had to evaluate Appellant. As a result, each doctor interviewed Appellant by asking her written

Page 611

questions in English and getting her written responses.

[¶4] After the evaluations were completed, Dr. Hughes filed a petition for court-ordered treatment (" COT" ) pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) section 36-533,[1] and attached the affidavits of the evaluating doctors. The affidavits reflected that both doctors made probable diagnoses of " unspecified psychotic disorder" and " schizophrenia," and both explained how Appellant was persistently or acutely disabled and concluded that there was no alternative to involuntary treatment.

[¶5] Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the hospital failed to adhere to statutorily defined due process standards by not providing an ASL interpreter to assist her during the court-ordered evaluations. She argued that because the doctors did not use an ASL interpreter during the interviews, the doctors' affidavits were legally insufficient under A.R.S. § 36-501(12)(a)(ii). The trial court considered ...


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