Patients entitled to hearing before move, judge rules

November 05, 2003|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Mentally disabled Rosewood Center residents accused of serious crimes are entitled to individual hearings before the state can move them to a more restrictive setting, a Howard County judge ruled yesterday.

The ruling by Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney will delay the transfer of 15 people whom the state planned to move Nov. 17 to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. Sweeney said he expects the state will be able to argue successfully that transfers are necessary to protect the safety of others - but that does not strip residents of their right to be heard.

Rosewood is an institution for developmentally disabled people in Owings Mills. Of its 205 residents, 40 are there under court order, accused of crimes including murder, rape, child abuse, assault and robbery.

Nelson J. Sabatini, secretary of the state Health Department, vowed to move all of Rosewood's court-committed residents to a more secure facility after a patient accused in a killing escaped in May. Most of these residents have been found incapable of standing trial or not criminally responsible for their actions.

Sabatini planned to move the 15 residents accused of the most severe crimes now, then build a facility for the others. He could not be reached for comment.

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