The Montana Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision to allow counsel for a mentally ill man to waive their client’s right to an in-person appearance at an involuntary commitment hearing, ruling that the attorney needed a friend of the ill client to be in place before making the weighty decision.

Under the applicable Montana statute, the man’s “right to be physically present at his commitment hearing could have also been validly waived by [his] counsel and appointed friend acting together, with the concurrence of the professional person and the judge,” the high court wrote.

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