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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

For now, courts will continue sending forms to DHS

The Strib also reported over the weekend that “the system that Minnesota has in place to block anyone who has been committed for psychiatric disorders from buying a gun or obtaining a carrying permit appears to have a serious flaw: The state Supreme Court apparently is not complying with a law that requires it to notify the DHS whenever a judge commits a person to community-based treatment programs, said Patrice Vick, a DHS spokeswoman.”

The director of communications for the state court system, John Kostouros, provided Minnesota Lawyer with the complete explanation, which he also gave the Strib:

“The courts have a manual procedure for notifying [the Department of Human Services] of commitment data. When a person is committed to a state facility, the data is provided to DHS by service of the commitment order. When a person is committed to a private facility or there is dual commitment, there is a form which is sent from the courts to DHS. As commitments to private facilities are on the increase, DHS expressed concern that they may not be receiving notice in all cases. After discussing the possible options, DHS decided to try using public access to the MNCIS, which will provide them direct access to public data in the commitment records. DHS was provided with MNCIS public access and training information. All counties are scheduled to be using MNCIS by December 2007. Pending that transition, the Courts will continue to send the manual forms to DHS.”

MNCIS is the state’s computer system, which as Kostouros said, is still not fully operational throughout the state. The courts have been working on it for years, as they have with the criminal portion of the record system, CriMNet, which just received an additional $5.4 million in funding from the Legislature (and which Gov. Pawlenty is expected to approve.) When it’s done the whole state will be on one database and information-sharing should be expedited.

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