R. Dowdy; Chau Lam
BRENTWOOD / Pilgrim Patient Wins a Stay Paul Henri
Thomas, 49, the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center patient who is challenging the state facility's
decision to give him electroshock treatments, will not have to undergo the procedure, at
least for now, pending a decision from an appellate court.
On Monday, attorneys for Thomas secured from the Appellate Division a temporary stay of
an order signed by State Supreme Court Justice W. Bromley Hall. Hall's order approved
Pilgrim's request to administer 40 electroshock treatments.
The stay will remain in effect at least until Monday, the deadline by which Pilgrim
officials must file papers with the Appellate Division, said Kim Darrow, an attorney for
the state Mental Hygiene Legal Service, which represents Thomas.
After that, a four-judge panel will review the arguments from both sides and decide
whether to grant another stay while the court reviews Thomas' appeal.
The stay, granted by Justice David S. Ritter, asks Pilgrim to make a case as to why
shock treatments should not be prohibited while the court reviews Hall's order, which was
signed April 20.
That order came after a weeks-long hearing in which Thomas challenged an application by
Pilgrim in February to administer the 40 shock treatments. Hall ruled that the expert
witnesses who testified for Thomas were not credible, saying in conclusion that the
treatments are in Thomas' "best interest." Thomas, who Pilgrim doctors say
displays signs of mental illnesses ranging from schizoaffective disorder to bipolar mania,
has been in the Brentwood facility since May 1999.
He has received about 60 shocks in all, almost all of them against his will. Thomas
signed papers consenting to the treatments in June 1999.
He underwent three procedures and then refused them. That's when doctors at Pilgrim
sought court approval for the procedure, arguing that Thomas did not have the mental
capacity to make medical decisions for himself.