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WJBD - Local News - Department of Human Services Faces New Hurdle In Moving Wards of the State Out of Murray Center

Department of Human Services Faces New Hurdle In Moving Wards of the State Out of Murray Center

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

Clinton County Judge Dennis Middendorff has issued an emergency temporary restraining order that will put another hurdle in front of the State Department of Human Services before they can move any of the 23 wards of the state out of Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.  

Middendorff appointed Stewart Freeman, who is also the county's public defender, as the temporary guardian for the 23 residents.  The order states the State of Illinois, and each of its subdivisions, is prohibited from transferring any disabled adult from Murray Center without Freeman's consent until further order of the court. 

The judge granted the order sought by the Friends of Murray Center and five other interested citizens Monday because he has grave concerns regarding the procedures employed by the state officials in moving the state wards out of Murray Center.  Middendorff says in considering each of the factors relevant to issuance of a temporary restraining order he finds that the harm to the defendants is outweighed by the threat of harm to persons in the protected group.  

The attorney for those seeking the relief, Philip Lading, called the judge's decision a victory for the residents of Murray Center.  

A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Human Services Januari Smith says the state had no knowledge the court hearing would take place and the agency and the State officials named as defendants were not present or represented.  So far Smith has not provided any further statement on the issuance of the temporary restraining order.  

Judge Middendorff ordered the attorney's for both the state and Friends of Murray Center to get together for a further court hearing on the issue within the next ten days. 

A federal temporary restraining order already bars the State Department of Human Services from moving residents out of Murray Center who have parents or guardians without their permission.  The Murray Parents Association and other organizations are claiming in the federal suit the closure of Murray Center and the type of care the Department of Human Services plans in the future for the residents violates federal law.  A hearing on the case is set in September.  

Governor Pat Quinn has been pushing closure of the facility is the right thing to do for the residents and will save the state money. 

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