The ruling was mixed, but mainly was a victory for Elizabeth’s goal of ending shock over her objection. The good news is the judge ruled Elizabeth Ellis cannot be given involuntary electroshock over her expressed wishes. (If Elizabeth continues to express her opposition vocally or in writing, she cannot technically be diagnosed “catatonic,” which was the one loophole provided by the judge.) However, the judge did rule for a variety of other involuntary psychiatric interventions.
Court Order Suspends Forced Shock for Elizabeth Ellis
Clay County District Court Judge Lisa Borgen ruled on Monday April 25, 2011, that Elizabeth Ellis shall not be given additional involuntary shock (electroconvulsive or ECT) treatments at this time. A door was left open for forced shock if Elizabeth is deemed to be “catatonic” at some time in the future.
The hearing on April 7th, was attended in person by Robert Ellis and Elizabeth’s daughter Susan Opp, as well as several people via phone and internet TV including lawyers, doctors and the Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Barbara Berg Windels.
This summary of the findings of the court is not an endorsement of the observations or conclusions made by the judge.
Included in the ruling was a narrative of events leading up to the April 7th hearing. Here are other significant findings of the court:
- Elizabeth is neither aware of her circumstances nor is she competent to make decisions regarding her care.
- Elizabeth’s prior signed directive refusing ECT was deemed invalid by the court.
- The court recognized Elizabeth’s longstanding opposition to ECT treatments.
- It was noted Elizabeth has improved significantly.
- The judge believes Elizabeth will not likely improve beyond her current condition, but does not consider her condition life-threatening warranting additional shock treatments.
- Neuroleptic medication (“antipsychotics”) may be administered without Elizabeth’s consent.
- If forced ECT is administered in the future it must be suspended once any symptoms of catatonia are alleviated.
- The order expires one year from the hearing date or when Elizabeth is released from commitment.
- No decision or recommendation was made regarding Elizabeth’s release from commitment.