The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Devine, over a two-justice dissent, determined that counsel for a civilly committed sex offender (D.J.) was not entitled to attend meetings about the appropriate treatment of the sex offender:
Having been adjudicated “a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement” (Mental Hygiene Law § 10.10 [a]), petitioner D.J. was committed to the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center and enrolled in the Sex Offender Treatment Program. Respondent Commissioner of Mental Health is required to “develop and implement a treatment plan” for D.J. and others in his position (Mental Hygiene Law § 10.10 [b]; see Mental Hygiene Law § 29.13 [a]) and, “[i]n causing such a plan to be prepared or . . . revised,” the patient and specified individuals must be “interviewed and provided an opportunity to actively participate” (Mental Hygiene Law § 29.13 [b]).
In 2016, D.J. asked that his counsel in the Mental Hygiene Law article 10 proceeding, assigned through petitioner Mental Hygiene Legal Service (hereinafter MHLS), accompany him to treatment planning meetings. The requests of D.J. and, later, his counsel were denied, with the chief of service for the Sex Offender Treatment Program, Bryan Shea, explaining that counsel was not entitled to attend treatment planning meetings as a matter of law and that counsel’s presence would be therapeutically counterproductive. Shea left open the possibility that a MHLS attorney could participate in a patient’s treatment planning, but explained that such would be contingent upon the attorney having a “genuine interest in the care of the patient” and guaranteeing “that [he or she was] no longer acting in the role of legal representative” and would keep “any information [received] during treatment planning . . . confidential” from MHLS. * * *
Counsel from MHLS … comes from an agency whose “statutory mission is to provide legal assistance to the residents of certain facilities” such as D.J., and legal advocacy may easily conflict with crafting an appropriate treatment plan if the medically advisable treatment conflicts with the client’s legal goals … . Matter of Mental Hygiene Legal Serv. v Sullivan, 2017 NY Slip Op 05656, 3rd Dept 7-13-17
MENTAL HYGIENE LAW (COUNSEL FOR A CIVILLY COMMITTED SEX OFFENDER WAS NOT ENTITLED TO ATTEND MEETINGS ABOUT APPROPRIATE TREATMENT FOR THE SEX OFFENDER 3RD DEPT)/ATTORNEYS (MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, COUNSEL FOR A CIVILLY COMMITTED SEX OFFENDER WAS NOT ENTITLED TO ATTEND MEETINGS ABOUT APPROPRIATE TREATMENT FOR THE SEX OFFENDER 3RD DEPT)/SEX OFFENDERS (MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, ATTORNEYS, COUNSEL FOR A CIVILLY COMMITTED SEX OFFENDER WAS NOT ENTITLED TO ATTEND MEETINGS ABOUT APPROPRIATE TREATMENT FOR THE SEX OFFENDER 3RD DEPT)