MDHHS to Develop New NGRI Protocols

Lansing, MI – Disability Rights Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reached an Interim Settlement Agreement in a lawsuit, restoring the rights of individuals deemed not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). Under the terms of this agreement, once finalized, NGRI individuals will receive treatment based on their mental health needs instead of their NGRI adjudication.

This suit was filed by Ann Arbor attorneys Ian Cross, Laurence H. Margolis and James Gallagher in 2018, and was later joined by DRM, on behalf of individuals adjudicated NGRI for criminal charges in Michigan courts. For years, treatment providers requested, and courts placed individuals adjudicated on involuntary hospitalization orders, regardless of their treatment progress or needs. This prevented NGRI individuals from benefiting from community treatment.

The interim agreement was filed on November 12, 2020 and a final agreement will be in place by May of 2021.

Agreement Highlights

  • DRM will work with MDHHS to develop a new NGRI patient rights handbook. MDHHS will distribute it to all NGRI patients.
  • Treatment recommendations to probate courts must be based on the person’s treatment needs, not their status as an NGRI patient.
  • Authorized Leave Status Contracts (ALS) are limited to one year, down from a standard of five years.
  • Language in ALS contracts will no longer be boilerplate; it must be individualized, based on the person’s treatment needs.
  • Language in policies suggesting hospitalization orders are required for NGRI patients will be removed.
  • DRM will work with MDHHS to develop training on the new policies for hospitals treating NGRI patients

“We would like to thank Margolis, Gallagher & Cross for filing this suit and bringing it to our attention. This agreement will restore the due process rights and treatment options of people adjudicated NGRI,” said Simon Zagata, DRM attorney. “It’s important to remember that these individuals are not guilty, they are in need of treatment. This agreement puts the focus back on treating these individuals, for their benefit and the benefit of society.”

Margolis, Gallagher and Cross’s case on behalf of affected individuals remains ongoing pending a determination of individual claims for damages and equitable relief.

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