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71 Wash. L. Rev. 1187 (1996)
Who are You to Say What My Best Interest is--Minors Due Process Rights When Admiited by Parents for Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

handle is hein.journals/washlr71 and id is 1197 raw text is: Copyright 0 1996 by Washington Law Review Association

Kelli Schmidt
Abstract. In State ex rel. T.B. v. CPC Fairfax Hospital, the Washington Supreme Court
determined that minors who refuse to consent to inpatient mental health treatment, but are
admitted by their parents nonetheless, have a statutory right to a prompt judicial review of the
admission decision. This Comment argues that confining mature minors in mental hospitals
against their will is a deprivation of both liberty and privacy interests and, as such, stringent
due process protections are required, not only by Washington's current statutory scheme, but
also by the U.S. and Washington Constitutions. It concludes by stating that the current
statutory scheme meets the standards of both the substantive and procedural requirements of
constitutional due process but that any statutory amendments that lower these standards are
likely to fail to pass constitutional muster.
In State ex rel. T.B. v. CPC Fairfax Hospital,' the Washington
Supreme Court determined that a minor's2 due process rights were
violated when her parents and hospital staff failed to seek judicial
oversight of their decision to commit her to an inpatient mental health
facility without her consent? The court based its opinion on the specific
facts in the case and the intent and language of the 1995 Becca Bill
amendments4 to the Mental Health Care and Treatment for Minors Act.5
Because the case was resolved on statutory grounds, the court avoided
explicitly reaching the constitutional issue6 of the process due to minors
1. 129 Wash. 2d 439,918 P.2d 497 (1996).
2. For the purposes of this Comment, the terms minor(s), juveniles, youths, and mature
minors will be used to refer to youth between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, unless otherwise
3. CPC Fairfax, 129 Wash. 2d at 451, 918 P.2d at 503. A second statutory violation occurred
when she was denied immediate access to counsel and subsequent access to her medical records. Id.
4. 1995 Wash. Laws 942, ch. 312, §§ 2, 52-54, 56, 58 (codified as amended at Wash. Rev. Code
chs. 71.34, 13.34 (1996)).
5. Wash. Rev. Code ch. 71.34.
6. CPC Fairfax, 129 Wash. 2d at 441, 918 P.2d at 498. The majority claims to avoid addressing
the constitutional issues posed by the case. However, the minority opinion accurately criticizes the
majority for nonetheless making strong statements that condemn the 'massive curtailment of liberty
caused by the minor's admission to an inpatient Hospital as unconstitutional. Id. at 454, 918 P.2d at
505 (Dolliver, J., concurring and dissenting) (citing majority opinion at 453, 918 P.2d at 504).


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