12 Thurs., Feb. 26, 1976 gljr Sakrrnftf 1ft (Catifnmian Kern panel may probe forced mental therapies Kern County Mental Health Advisory Board may organize a special committee to investigate the rights of persons forced to participate in programs designed for treatment of psychiatric illness. The committee proposal was made during a recent advisory board meeting by Dr. Daniel Grabski, county mental health services director. Grabski said there has been an increasing number of jury trials in Kern County involving "conservatorship," the system in which persons with seri- U.S. Forest Service announced its revised Mineral King development proposal at a press conference this morning. Mineral King Valley, shown looking south toward Farewell Gap, is highlight of Mineral King area.-^U.S. Forest Service Photo) Mineral King rec plan from page 11 will provide outdoor summer recreational experiences in a high elevation area with superb visual quality, Leisz said. The year-round recreational complex will be unique to California. It will provide a rare opportunity to introduce a largely urban population to a high-country setting. Recreational development in the Mineral King area has been considered for many years. In 1949 USFS issued a prospectus inviting proposals to provide public recreational facilities at Mineral King. No proposals were re* ceived due to the high cost of access, Leisz said. Another, prospectus was issued in 1965 by the Forest Service. Six proposals were received. The proposal of Walt Disney Productions was selected by USFS as the one which would best develop Mineral King's outstanding recreational potential, Leisz said. Walt Disney Productions was —Granting a right-of-way for a road or public conveyance medium not essential to National Park management through the Sequoia National Park to Mineral King. It is anticipated that hearings on the litigation will be held in Federal District Court in San Francisco in the near future, Leisz said. No development could take place in Mineral King until, and unless, the litigation was resolved in tite favor of the federal government. Copies «f the Final Enviommental Statement for Mineral King are available for review at USFS offices and se, lected libraries in California. A limited number of the Final Environmental Statement are available on a first-come first-served basis, he said. They may be obtained by writing U.S. Forest Service, Division of Recreation, 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco 94111. A Summary of the Final Environmental Statement has been prepared ous mental problems are placed in institutions or treatment programs. Advisory board members delayed a decision on forming the committee until the next regular meeting. The board didn't agree on who should sit on the committee, although they discuss- ed inviting members of the Kern County Medical Society, representatives of the public defender's office and the Kern County Bar Association. Board member Dr. George Singer urged the committee be formed immediately, saying "the history of commitments (of mental health patients) in this county has been a terrible one." The conservatorship system was enacted through state law in 1969 and basically requires a court hearing be-' fore a person can be referred to a mental institution if a family member or guardian does not assume responsibility for the individual. The law requires an annual review of the patient to determine if he or she has made sufficient progress to be released. Grabski said there has been at least one jury trial held in the past 12 months in which the initial court decision referring a patient to an institution was successfully appealed. "We are now haying our third jury trial on a conservatorship within the past several months," Grabski said. "Kern is considerably ahead of other counties in its system of assuring patients' rights; however, the issue is becoming a bigger one." Grabski asked the committee to look at issues of patient advocacy, the criminal offender and conservatorship and advise the mental health department on program direction. "It's a complex issue and I'm sure it will not be quickly resolved," he said. Under the conservatorship system the mental health department refers patients disabled by mental disorder or severe alcoholism to the county coroner's office which investigates whether a family member or "reliable person" will assume responsibility. If no family member of "reliable person" can be found, the coroner's office uses a county psychiatrist to conduct a 30-day treatment session with the pktient, according to County Coroner Richard P. Gervais. At the end of the 30-day treatment period the, person is either released or recommended to be placed in a local or state institution, which requires a court hearing, Gervais said. Gervais said the judge only decides on the basis of testimony, if the psychiatrist's recommendation is correct. Whether the patient is placed in a state institution or a local program is determined by the Community Continuing Care Services, the coroner's office and the psychiatrist, he said. Gervais said he feels it's best for the courts to make commitment decisions on the basis of testimony because if the mental health department did this, "it would be a conflict of interest."