National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Commitment and Dangerousness in the Wake of Sandy Hook:
A Vermont Case Study

John J. McCullough III, J.D.

December, 2012: A young man with a history of mental health issues kills teachers and students at an elementary school in Connecticut.

 January, 2013: A young man is thought to have threatened to kill teachers and students at an unspecified school in Vermont.

In response to the alleged threats  the young man, K.G  was involuntarily hospitalized and made the subject of an involuntary commitment proceeding. Not only was he held involuntarily while his case was pending, even after his case was resolved and he was released by the court the assistant attorney general prosecuting the case called the local school district, which closed the schools the following Monday. The local newspaper obtained a copy of the transcript and publicized what would otherwise have been confidential information.

Every commitment case in Vermont involves two questions: whether the proposed patient has a mental illness and whether, as a result of the mental illness, the proposed patient poses a danger to himself or others. The issues in K.G.ís case  involved whether he actually had a mental illness under Vermont law and whether anything he said or did posed a threat to the public. This seminar will present a case study of how K.G. was treated by the mental health and judicial systems and how public institutions in the community responded to a perceived threat. Of particular interest in this case was whether the court would deal with a high profile case any differently than with the less visible cases it handles every day.

Link to brief presenter bio:

John J. McCullough III, J.D.