On May 14, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court answered the following two questions in the negative, which were certified to it by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals:
- Does “support plan” review under Fla. Stat. § 393.0651 require the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to consider the propriety of a continued involuntary admission to residential services order entered under Fla. Stat. § 393.11?
- Is the Agency for Persons with Disabilities required, pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 393.0651 and/or Fla. Stat. § 393.11, to petition the circuit court for the release from an involuntary admission order in cases where the APD determines that the circumstances that led to the initial admission order have changed?
In 2004, J.R., a 48 year-old man with an IQ of 56, was involuntary admitted to residential services administered by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, a part of the Department of Children and Family Services, after he was charged with sexual battery and found incompetent to stand trial. Upon his admission, J.R. was given a support plan.
In 2011, J.R. sued Michael Hansen, the Director of APD, challenging the constitutionality of the statutes regulating his involuntarily admission. J.R. contended that Chapter 393, Florida Statutes violated his due process rights because it does not provide for periodic review of an involuntary admitted resident’s continued confinement by a decision-maker who has the authority to release the resident. The dispute centered around the constitutionality of sections 393.11 and 393.0651, Florida Statutes. Section 393.11 governs the involuntary admission of developmentally disabled individuals to residential services. Section 393.0651 governs support plan review for clients enrolled in the Agency services. A client may challenge his or her support plan in an administrative proceeding, but the presiding hearing officer has no authority to change the involuntary admission order.
The Florida Supreme Court answered the first and second certified question in the negative. The Court answered the first question in the negative because support plan review under section 393.0651 does not require the Agency to consider whether an involuntary admission order entered under section 393.11 continues to be appropriate. Section 393.0651 provides a comprehensive scheme regarding annual support plan review for Agency clients, but nothing within the text of the statute can be construed to include consideration of the elements that must be established for involuntary commitment.
The second question was answered in the negative because the Agency is not required, under either section 393.0651 or section 393.11, to petition the circuit court for a person’s release from an involuntary admission order in cases where the Agency determines that the circumstances that led to the initial admission order have changed.
The Court declined to answer the third certified question because it asked the Court to interpret federal law. Specifically, the third certified question asked the Court to analyze Chapter 393 in light of federal constitutional case law and effectively resolve J.R.’s underlying federal constitutional claim.
Justices Pariente and Canady dissented.