Ohio courts needing to report violent offenders with mental illness

The Akron Legal News last Friday reported that “while acknowledging the need to protect law enforcement and the public, officials with local mental health courts also advise caution in the implementation of newly adopted Rule of Superintendence  95 and its accompanying form --  effective Jan. 1, 2014, named in memory of Deputy Suzanne Hooper who was killed in action on January 1, 2011, and seeking notification of law enforcement officers of potential trouble from people with a history of both violent crime and adjudged mental illness, saying that while the new rule applies to all courts, mental health courts have already been dealing with these issues for some time.”

The article quotes Anthony Ingram, chief probation officer for the Akron Municipal Court and one of the founding team members of that institution’s mental health court as saying “There are some significant issues and concerns that I have with the Hooper Act… still some questions to work out.”

“Magistrate Dennis Serisky, of the felony mental health court division of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, also had questions about the law, particularly in issues of privacy and the stigma that can be attached to someone adjudged mentally ill, saying ‘the releasing any type of medical information may infringe upon the defendant’s constitutional privacy rights, as well as HIPPA rules… The defendant becomes labeled as mentally ill. What happens if the defendant is later evaluated as not mentally ill? I do have concern about their medical evaluations.”

Rule 95 and its accompanying form followed the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 7 in June 2013.