Activist Laura Ziegler gives an overview of events this past month as the New York Office of Mental Health gave nine (9) last-minute electroshocks to Simone D., before her attorneys finally won a court battle on 28 August 2007 for her right to say “no” to forced electroshock.
Summary of Simone D. Victory Over Forced Electroshock
On June 27, 2007, the New York State Court of Appeals upheld an order by Queens Supreme Court Justice Roger Rosengarten authorizing Creedmoor Psychiatric Center to forcibly administer electroshock to Simone D. This order once again became effective when the stay pending appeal expired on July 23. As authorized by the order, Simone D. was shocked against her will nine times between July 30 and August 24.
Following unsuccessful procedural attempts to terminate the shock order, on August 21 an emergency motion to vacate the order was filed with Judge Rosengarten and heard that same day. The judge agreed that his main reason for ordering shock, Simone D.’s potentially life-threatening risk of malnourishment, an observation cited in the Appellate Division decision affirming the lower court’s order, no longer applied. He did not vacate or stay his order but ordered a new hearing, which took place before Justice Kerrigan on August 28, 2007.
At the hearing her MHLS attorney, Kim Darrow, cross examined the testifying Creedmoor psychiatrist. Although this psychiatrist had personally administered shock to Simone D., he was unfamiliar with substantial portions of the hospital record relating to her history of shock treatment.
Kim Darrow argued that Creedmoor had not met its burden of showing that shock was in Simone D.’s best interests, or that there were no less intrusive alternatives including amelioration of her linguistic isolation. The court agreed that Creedmoor had not shown that the limited benefits of shock outweighed the adverse cognitive and other effects, and vacated the 2005 order. MHLS will continue to advocate for Simone D. and will attempt to get her transferred to a unit for Spanish-speaking patients.