Supreme Court Reserves on Forced Treatment Case

OTTAWA – January 15, 2003 – A full nine-judge panel of the Supreme Court of Canada heard argument today in the "Beautiful Mind" case. The case pits renowned physicist Professor Scott Starson, who seeks to avoid treatment with anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing medications, against his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Russel Fleming.

Professor Starson was found incapable of making his own treatment decisions by his psychiatrist. Upon the Professor’s application, the Consent and Capacity Board upheld the psychiatrist’s finding of incapacity. On appeal to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, however, Madam Justice Anne Molloy reversed, finding the Board’s decision to be unreasonable. The Court of Appeal for Ontario agreed with Madam Justice Molloy and dismissed the appeal.

When the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal, the stage was set for the country’s highest court to hear the first case on the issue of treatment capacity in its history. Swadron Associates was retained to represent the proposed interveners Mental Health Legal Committee (lawyers and community legal workers practicing mental health law) and Mental Health Legal Advocacy Coalition (a consumer/survivor advocacy group). Leave to intervene was granted and Marshall Swadron and Aaron Dhir made oral submissions to the top court.

After hearing argument from the Attorney General of Ontario on behalf of Dr. Fleming, Anita Szigeti as amicus curiae and other interveners including the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, the Court reserved its decision. No date has been set for the release of the decision.

Click this link for the Real Player broadcast of CBC Radio’s The Current segment from the morning the case was argued, including Marshall Swadron’s interview with host Anna Maria Tremonti. Click this link for a photograph of counsel at the Supreme Court.