PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday set aside a federal judge’s ruling from last year that had paused a long-standing order requiring the Oregon State Hospital to admit certain patients within seven days.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman in May 2020 modified a 2002 court order requiring the state psychiatric hospital to admit people no longer than seven days after they’ve been found unable to aid and assist in their own defense.
His decision removed the time limit on keeping those patients in jail to accommodate the state hospital’s limited admissions policy as the pandemic worsened.
Advocacy group Disability Rights Oregon has long protested Mosman’s decision, saying that leaving patients in jail violates their constitutional rights. The group appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit, urging the judges to consider the constitutional rights of patients awaiting trial.
The judges sided with Disability Rights Oregon on Monday, asking Mosman to reassess his modification to the admissions policy for aid-and-assist patients. The court said Mosman could have considered putting a time limit or adding other accountability measures into his modification.
“An open-ended modification order is inconsistent with the urgent need to transfer individuals … out of jails,” the 9th Circuit decision said.
Emily Cooper, Disability Rights Oregon’s legal director, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the organization hopes Mosman will determine that a modification to the admissions policy is no longer necessary.
On Wednesday, Disability Rights Oregon’s legal team filed a motion asking the court to restore the 2002 court order, which would require the state hospital to go back to admitting patients no more than seven days after they’ve been deemed unable to aid and assist in their own defense.
Aria Seligmann, an Oregon Health Authority spokesperson, said the state hospital will continue its current practice of admitting 19 to 23 patients every week under its COVID-19 precautions and wait for the judge to act on the appellate decision.
This story has been updated to correct the 9th Circuit Court’s decision. The court set aside a federal judge’s ruling from last year and now the judge must review his decision on the admissions policy at the psychiatric hospital.