May 2019Volume 5Number 3PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

Illinois Supreme Court issues new rule regarding use of restraints in mental health and disability cases

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued Supreme Court Rule 296, which requires that trial courts not use restraints on individuals involved in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code proceedings unless the court conducts a separate hearing on the record as to the necessity for restraints.

The new rule is effective immediately. 

Proposed by the 24-member Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning, Rule 296 was adopted to ensure that a dignified judicial process is maintained for the respectful treatment of persons in mental health cases who are subjects of the court proceedings. 

Input and feedback regarding the creation of Rule 296 was provided by numerous sources and stakeholders throughout the state of Illinois. The impetus for the creation of the new rule came from the case of In re Benny M., 2017 IL 120133, where the supreme court held that the use of restraints on a respondent in an involuntary treatment proceeding should be used only upon a finding of manifest necessity.

The court's hearing for the necessity of restraints may include factors such as whether the respondent poses a risk of danger to himself, herself or others; whether there is a risk of elopement; the physical security of the courtroom or the room in which the proceeding is being held; and any risk assessment prepared by a trained professional. 

The respondent and the respondent's attorney will have the opportunity to be present and to be heard at the hearing, and all counsel may present evidence or make proffers and arguments that are relevant to the court's consideration of the use of restraints. 

If a decision is made to use restraints, the court shall state its findings of fact on the record as to the basis for the order entered and the court must allow the least restrictive restraints necessary. Under no circumstances should a respondent be restrained to another person, a wall, the floor or furniture while in the courtroom.

Meryl Camin Sosa, Esq., is the Executive Director of the Illinois Psychiatric Society, Buffalo Grove, IL. She may be contacted at

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