Nevada Advocacy Center Sues State Over 'Improper'
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2005
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA--A federal lawsuit was filed on June 24 against Nevada officials, claiming they are violating the rights of criminal defendants who have been determined mentally incompetent to stand trial.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center (NDALC) filed the suit on behalf of Stephen Hellbusch, who was arrested on February 22 and charged with burglary, attempted grand larceny and resisting arrest. Hellbusch, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was still being held at the Clark County Detention Center on June 24, even though District Judge Stewart Bell ordered him to be transported to a mental health facility for treatment on April 27.
The suit claimed that officials with the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, the Department of Human Resources, and the psychiatric facility, Lakes Crossing, denied "prompt admission" to the facility for Hellbusch and other clients with mental illnesses.
Several clients "routinely spent weeks and, in some cases, months at detention facilities where the conditions are punitive and no restorative mental health treatment is available," NDALC asserted in the suit. This delay in treatment impaired their lawyers' ability to locate witnesses and otherwise develop legal defenses for them, it claimed.
The lawsuit asked the court to require state officials to take immediate physical custody of Hellbusch and any other detainees in similar circumstances.
NDALC is Nevada's federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy System for individuals with disabilities.
Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center