Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–582. Petitions, applications, or certificates of physicians or qualified psychologists.

(a) A petition, application, or certificate authorized under section 21-521, section 21-541(a), section 21-545.01, or section 21-548 may not be considered if made by a psychiatrist, physician, or qualified psychologist who:

(1) Is related by blood, marriage, or domestic partnership to the person about whom the petition, application, or certificate is made;

(2) Is financially interested in the hospital in which the person is to be detained; or

(3) Except in the case of psychiatrists, physicians, or qualified psychologists employed by the United States or the District of Columbia, are professionally or officially connected with the hospital or are employed on a contract basis by the Department.

(b) A petition, application, or certificate of a physician or qualified psychologist may not be considered unless it is based on personal observation and examination of the person made by the physician or qualified psychologist not more than 72 hours prior to the making of the petition, application, or certificate. The certificate shall set forth in detail the facts and reasons on which the physician or qualified psychologist based his opinions and conclusions.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 759, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Feb. 24, 1984, D.C. Law 5-48, § 11(a)(18), 30 DCR 5778; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(ee), 50 DCR 917; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 22(f), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-582.

1973 Ed., § 21-582.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-283 rewrote subsec. (a); and in subsec. (b), deleted “alleged mentally ill” from the first sentence. Prior to amendment, subsec. (a) had read as follows: “(a) A petition, application, or certificate authorized under section 21-521 and subsection (a) of section 21-541 may not be considered if made by a physician or qualified psychologist who is related by blood or marriage to the alleged mentally ill person, or who is financially interested in the hospital in which the alleged mentally ill person is to be detained, or, except in the case of physicians or qualified psychologists employed by the United States or the District of Columbia, who are professionally or officially connected with the hospital.”

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “blood, marriage, or domestic partnership” for “blood or marriage”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(dd) of Mental Health Commitment Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-265, January 30, 2002, 49 DCR 1450).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(dd) of Mental Health Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-350, April 24, 2002, 49 DCR 4417).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(ee) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-546, December 12, 2002, 50 DCR 199).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(ee) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-41, March 24, 2003, 50 DCR 2784).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(dd) of D.C. Law 14-131 amended subsec. (a) to read as follows:

“(a) A petition, application, or certificate authorized under section 21-521, section 21-541(a), section 21-545.01, or section 21-548 may not be considered if made by a psychiatrist, physician, or qualified psychologist who:

“(1) Is related by blood or marriage to the person about whom the petition, application, or certificate is made;

“(2) Is financially interested in the hospital in which the person is to be detained; or

“(3) Except in the case of psychiatrists, physicians, or qualified psychologists employed by the United States or the District of Columbia, are professionally or officially connected with the hospital.”.; and in subsec. (b), in the first sentence, deleted “alleged mentally ill”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-131 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

References in Text

Section 21-545.01, referred to in subsec. (a), is enacted only upon enactment of certain legislation by the United States Congress.