Despite careful screening, community mental health centers occasionally admit to their inpatient units patients who prove difficult to manage and who require treatment in a more restrictive setting, or they admit patients who, by the nature of their pathology, require treatment in a long-term facility. It is not unusual for such patients, who have entered treatment voluntarily, to be transferred to other facilities on involuntary status under an emergency certificate and without benefit of a probate court hearing. In a study at the Connecticut Mental Health Center, the authors found that only a small percentage of the population (3.5 per cent) was involuntarily transferred. However, all the patients had entered treatment voluntarily, and in no case was the transfer made after a court hearing. The authors consider the question of whether routinely bypassing probate court hearings in making such transfers is an infringement of the patients' civil rights.