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Name: In re Qawi
Case #: S100099
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/05/2004
Subsequent History: None

In this case, the Supreme Court had to decide whether petitioner Qawi, a mentally disordered offender (MDO), had the right under Penal Code section 2972, subdivision (g), to refuse antipsychotic medication in the absence of a judicial determination of his incapacity to make such a decision. Respondent argued that an MDO had no such right. Qawi argued that he had the right to refuse, limited only by an emergency situation or the event that he was adjudicated incompetent to refuse medical treatment. The Court held that in order to give the MDO the same rights as LPS patients, an MDO can be compelled to take antipsychotic drugs in a nonemergency situation only if a court makes one of two findings: that the MDO is incompetent or incapable of making medical treatment decisions, or that the MDO is dangerous within the meaning of section 5300. The right to refuse can also further be limited by the State Department of Mental Health regulations necessary to provide security at inpatient facilities. This interpretation gives MDOs the same right to refuse medication as mentally ill state prisoners have under section 2600. Petitioner Qawi’s case had to be remanded, therefore, for a new hearing under the appropriate standard, as it was unclear whether he fit into any of the above categories. J. Brown dissented, finding that the majority opinion would achieve the opposite of the legislative intent, as MDOs who refuse antipsychotic medication will not receive necessary treatment and subject them to indefinite commitment with no prospect of rehabilitation.