Lawyer brought to psychiatry because of corona lawsuit?

The case sounds explosive: A lawyer who is fighting against the Corona measures is taken to the psychiatric ward by the police. The authorities make it clear: There is no connection.

The measures that the federal states have adopted to contain the corona pandemic are far from being understood by all citizens. Some take action against it with different means – also legally. The case of the Heidelberg lawyer Beate B., who became known as the "Corona lawyer", made the headlines. She had submitted an urgent application to the Federal Constitutional Court to lift the measures in all federal states.

A few days later, the police took her to a mental hospital. A link between their fight against restrictions and psychiatric accommodation is being made on numerous platforms.

In fact, on April 10, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected B.’s urgent application as inadmissible. Such a request is only admissible if all other possible legal remedies have previously been unsuccessful, explains ARD legal expert Christoph Kehlbach. The Karlsruhe judges pointed out that B. first had to seek legal protection from the lower courts, such as the Baden-Wurttemberg Administrative Court. In addition, the lawyer turned against all legal ordinances of all federal states. In Karlsruhe, however, such urgent proceedings are about asserting an infringement "in one’s own rights", explains Kehlbach. According to the judges, "own rights" could not be affected by all 16 statutory orders.

In protest against the decision from Karlsruhe, B. returned her license to practice as a lawyer. The public prosecutor’s office is now investigating the Heidelberg woman: "She is said to have publicly called on her website to oppose the state-issued Corona ordinances. In addition, she is said to have called for a nationwide demonstration on Easter Saturday," she said Police headquarters Mannheim with. On their homepage, which has been blocked in the meantime, there is, among other things, a self-issued "Corona Resurrection Ordinance" in which B. declares the shutdown to be over.

Should B. be "silenced"?

As the police headquarters announced, the lawyer was picked up by police officers on the street on Easter Sunday evening. Witnesses had alerted them because a woman had spoken to passers-by and drivers and stated that she was being followed. When talking to the police officers, B. made a confused impression and even physically assaulted an officer, whereupon she was taken to the psychiatric clinic.

In social networks, on various Internet portals and in a short-term online petition that requested B.’s release, it is suggested that she was imprisoned for her actions against the corona measures. She should be "silenced" because of her position. "That (sic!) Ms. B. was now imprisoned (sic!) Is a scandal, we at least officially live in a free, democratic constitutional state and not in a dictatorship!", Says the petition text.

Endangering yourself and others

In a joint statement, the Heidelberg Public Prosecutor and the Mannheim Police Headquarters declared "that in the course of the criminal investigation proceedings against the accused, neither the accused was placed in a psychiatric clinic nor any other coercive criminal procedural measure." In the event of endangering themselves or others, police officers have the executive power to take the person concerned into custody and to present them to a doctor, the police headquarters said on request. According to reports from the police and the public prosecutor’s office, it was such a case. With B. the presentation took place directly in the clinic.

An audio recording is currently spreading via messenger services in which a woman – apparently Beate B. – states that she is being held in the psychiatric clinic against her will and without a judicial order. In it, she accuses police officers of using violence against her when she was arrested. After a night in a "high-security wing", however, she is now in another locked ward – and thus in safety "from very dark forces", says the audio, the authenticity of which has not been verified. The woman also speaks of a "terror regime as the world has never seen it before" and an alleged "killer virus" from which no one has died.

The lawyer was released from the psychiatric clinic on Tuesday evening, and the judicial hearing on the allegation of public incitement to commit a crime took place on Wednesday.

What is it about B.’s urgent application?

Even if their application before the Federal Constitutional Court failed: The underlying problem is currently worrying many lawyers, says the ARD legal expert Kehlbach. Currently, essential basic rights, such as freedom of assembly, are restricted to a degree and intensity that has not yet been the case in the history of the Federal Republic. "Well-known constitutional lawyers also doubt that such serious encroachments on fundamental rights can still be justified by the threat posed by the coronavirus," explains Kehlbach. One of the arguments: demonstrations can also be allowed under conditions such as a mask requirement or the requirement to keep your distance. That is a milder means than categorically forbidding a fundamental right that is essential for democracy.

ARD legal expert Christoph Kehlbach on urgent applications before the BverfG

So far, no urgent application against the Corona ordinances has been successful before the Federal Constitutional Court. But the Karlsruhe judges have made it clear, in a procedure to ban worship, that they are quite critical of the drastic encroachments on fundamental rights. It must be continuously checked whether the interventions are still justified in view of the actual situation. The current situation must therefore by no means become permanent. In addition, Karlsruhe initially only carries out a preliminary assessment of the consequences of such urgent requests. The final constitutional decision will follow later.

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