CHAPTER 18

RELATING TO ADMISSIONS TO HOSPITAL FOR MENTALLY RETARDED

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 55, TITLE 16, DELAWARE CODE, IN RESPECT TO ADMISSION, DETENTION AND COMMITMENT OF PERSONS TO THE HOSPITAL FOR THE MENTALLY RETARDED AT STOCKLEY, DELAWARE; AND TO PROVIDE FOR APPEALS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. § 5521 and § 5522, Title 16, Delaware Code, are amended by striking out the said sections and substituting the following sections:

§ 5521. Voluntary commitments; observation

(a) Upon the recommendation of the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the State of Delaware, any mentally retarded minor may be committed to the Hospital at Stockley provided that the minor's parent or legal guardian requests such admission. A public or private agency having the legal care and custody of a minor shall be deemed the legal guardian of such minor for the purposes of this section whether or not the Court has officially designated such agency as guardian.

(b) The State Board of Trustees of the Delaware State Hospital at Farnhurst may establish a voluntary admission procedure for the observation, study, diagnosis or treatment of any person who is or may be mentally retarded.

§ 5522. Involuntary detention or commitment; appeal

(a) No adult person may be received as a patient for involuntary detention in the Hospital at Stockley unless his presence in the community would be detrimental to himself or to the community and then only after:

(1) A certificate stating that the person is mentally retarded has been made upon the recommendation of the Mental Hygiene Clinic or of the State Psychiatrist, including a complete report of a qualified clinical psychologist, and signed by at least two physicians, residents of this State who have been actively engaged in the practice of medicine for at least five years heretofore within the continental limits of the United States and who are residents of the same county as the person alleged to be mentally retarded;

(2) The certificate shall be filed with the Superintendent of the Hospital at Stockley;

(3) The certificate shall be made within one week after the examination of such person and within two weeks of the time of the filing of the same with the Superintendent;

(4) The certificate shall be signed by the physicians who shall also make affidavit to the truth of the facts and statements therein contained, which affidavit may be made before any officer authorized to administer oaths within the State.

(b) The patient or any person related to or connected with him by blood or marriage, shall have the right at any time to appeal the commitment as evidenced by the certificate to the Court of Chancery. The Court of Chancery shall have full power to hear and determine the appeal and to protect all of the patient's constitutional rights in respect thereto. The Court may, if the petitioner so requests, call a jury to determine whether the patient is mentally retarded.

Section 2. This act shall be effective upon approval as to any admission, detention or commitment which shall take place after the effective date of this act. The law shall remain as heretofore as to any admission, detention or commitment which took place prior to the approval of this act but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Trustees from re-examining and reconsidering any such prior admission, detention or commitment.

Approved March 18, 1957.