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Does Ohio Law Allowing Commitment of Mentally Ill Criminal Defendants Violate Their Due Process Rights?
State of Ohio v. Thonex Williams, Case no. 2008-2424
2nd District Court of Appeals (MontgomeryCounty)
ISSUE: Under Ohio R.C. 2945.39, when a mentally ill person has been indicted for a violent felony but found incompetent to stand trial, and a common pleas court finds that after one year of treatment there is no substantial probability the defendant can be restored to competence in the foreseeable future, the trial court may involuntarily commit the accused to a psychiatric hospital if the state shows by clear and convincing evidence: 1) that the accused falls within the legal definition of a mentally ill person subject to hospitalization; and 2) that the accused committed the violent felony with which he was charged. In this case, a Dayton man who was indicted on a violent felony count, found incompetent to stand trial and involuntarily committed to a mental hospital under R.C. 2945.39 asks the Supreme Court to affirm a court of appeals ruling that the statutory commitment process violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the law.