O’Connor v. Donaldson

O’Connor v. Donaldson, 420 U.S. 563 (1975), is a landmark mental health law case involving the constitutionality of the 14-year involuntary civil commitment of Kenneth Donaldson in a Florida state hospital. It signaled an important shift in the framework for deciding civil commitment, emphasizing the important role of the courts and due process in determining whether someone with a mental health disorder can be confined. This entry summarizes the case facts, reviews the legal issues raised in the case, and describes the implications of the case for mental health law.

Kenneth Donaldson was born in 1908. He was married, had three children, and worked to support himself for a number of years. In 1943, he was hospitalized in a state mental hospital for 3 months. Subsequently, ...

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