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Man Wins Court Battle But May Get Shocked Anyway

May 30, 2019- by Daniel Tepfer, CT Post - BRIDGEPORT - A local man fighting a court order forcing him to undergo shock therapy won a major battle Thursday — but may have lost the war.

Over the objections of the state attorney general’s office, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis Thursday afternoon agreed to hear the 26-year-old man’s appeal of a Probate Court ruling.

But the judge continued the hearing for Tuesday. Because there is no order staying the matter, the man could receive the shock therapy any time before that hearing.

“That’s the way the law stands,” stated Virginia Teixeira, a lawyer for the Connecticut Legal Rights Project who is representing the man, shrugging her shoulders. “That’s how it is.”

Officials for the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center, where the man is a patient, left the courtroom smiling but without comment.

Neither Teixeira nor Assistant Attorney General Emily Melendez could produce a transcript of the probate hearing or tell the judge what had occurred there to convince Judge Paul Ganim to order the patient, identified in court only as John Doe, to undergo involuntary shock therapy.

Bellis said she was therefore not in a position to rule whether there were alternative treatments for the man and that the shock therapy should not be done.

“I would be acting without knowing what the evidence was,” she said.

The judge then took a recess to call the probate court and order a transcript of the probate court hearing.

The probate court file is sealed. However, sources said two hearings were held before Ganim in which medical professionals testified the therapy is necessary for the man.

John Doe had then contacted the Connecticut Legal Right Project and asked them to represent him in appealing the probate order.

“He obviously was sophisticated enough to contact me and ask me to file an appeal,” Teixeira said. “The client told me he is really scared and asked me to help him. This should not be forced on him.”

Melendez had asked Judge Bellis to close the hearing to the public, but the judge denied that motion. Melendez then claimed the judge did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the man’s parents had previously been appointed as his conservator and were supporting the therapy.

Although the judge said this was a unique case in which a patient rather than a conservator was seeking a probate ruling appeal, she said her research supported her hearing it.

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