Section 22-52-10.6

Petition for renewal of inpatient commitment order; probate court; special judge; notice; hearing.

(a) A petition for renewal of an inpatient commitment order may be filed by the director of a state mental health facility or his designee at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the current commitment order. The petition, together with a copy of the original commitment order and copies of any subsequent renewal commitment orders, shall be filed with the probate court of the county where the facility is located. The petition shall explain in detail why renewal of the order is being requested, and shall further explain in detail why less restrictive conditions of treatment are not appropriate.

(b) Such probate court may consider, hear, and enter appropriate orders pursuant to this section or may request that the case be heard by a special judge of probate.

(c) Whenever and wherever it shall become necessary that a special judge of probate be provided to hear and enter appropriate orders with regard to the renewal of commitment orders pursuant to the provisions of this section, then it shall be the responsibility of the probate judge in the county so affected by location of the state mental health facility to determine, select and appoint from time to time such probate judge; who shall be paid that compensation as determined by the probate judge in that county not to exceed $100.00 per case. The fee set to compensate the special probate judge shall be allowable costs under Section 22-52-14. The county wherein the hearing for the renewal of a commitment order is held shall also be allowed a fee of $20.00 per case to compensate the county for additional record keeping. This compensation shall be allowable costs under Section 22-52-14.

(d) Any special judge of probate appointed under the provisions of subsection (c) shall be vested with all authority, duties, responsibilities and judicial functions of the probate court having jurisdiction over any person involuntarily committed by the probate court of any county in the State of Alabama.

(e) Any special judge of probate appointed under the provisions of subsection (c) shall be a citizen of the State of Alabama, shall have previously served for a minimum of six years as a judge of probate in this state, or shall be licensed to practice law in this state, and shall take the present oath of office upon entering his official duties and serve without bond.

(f) Any hearing conducted under the provisions of this section shall be conducted in the facilities provided by the department where such persons committed as patients are located.

(g) The judge of probate, hearing the case, shall conduct a hearing, within 30 days after the date of petition, to consider the petition for renewal of the commitment order.

(h) The judge of probate of the county where the facility is located shall appoint an attorney to serve as guardian ad litem to represent and to protect the rights of the respondent. Such appointment shall be in writing and acceptance of appointment shall be returned to the judge of probate at least five days prior to the hearing.

(i) Adequate written notice shall be provided to the respondent prior to the hearing.

(j) The commissioner shall designate one or more members of his staff to serve as advocate in support of the petition and such advocate shall be required to be an attorney.

(k) The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with Section 22-52-9. A copy of the order shall be forwarded to the probate court having original jurisdiction. The burden of proof shall be to prove, based on clear and convincing evidence, the criteria as prescribed in this article.

(l) The department shall provide the advocate in support of the petition and the expert witness at no cost to the State General Fund; and all other costs allowable by law shall be paid as prescribed in Section 22-52-14.

(m) Any order renewing an order for commitment to inpatient treatment shall not exceed a period of one year.

(Acts 1991, No. 91-440, p. 783, §16.)