Oklahoma judge threatens to jail mental health commissioner

AP News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2015 2:59 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma County judge threatened to jail the state's mental health commissioner for ignoring a written order to commit an inmate to a state mental health facility.

District Judge Ray C. Elliot admonished commissioner Terri White for not transferring 35-year-old Ricky Norman Edwards to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita per his July 24 order, The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/1EJjKxJ ) reported. The inmate was transferred this week after a contempt-of-court hearing was scheduled for White.

White's representative, state general counsel Dewayne Moore, said Wednesday that Edwards could not be moved because there were not enough beds at the facility. The judge rejected that explanation.

"You just don't get to ignore a court order," he said. "It's kind of sad that I have to tell the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health the same thing I have to tell someone who's committed eight felonies."

A spokesman for the department said after the hearing that the issue is a lack of funding for services, not a failure by the department. Moore said in court that the waiting list to get into the 175-bed center is 100 people long.

"That's really not my problem, counselor," Elliot told Moore. "You don't solve that problem by ignoring a court order."

A psychologist found Edwards mentally incompetent after police charged him with two counts of sexual battery for allegedly having inappropriate contact with two women in downtown Oklahoma City last May.

The contempt-of-court hearing will be held March 2.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com