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Judge: fundamental error rule doesn't apply to civil cases

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An Indiana Court of Appeals judge disagreed with the decision of his fellow panel members to allow a man committed to a psychiatric unit to argue the trial court committed fundamental error by not issuing an order scheduling a hearing within three days of receiving the petition for involuntary commitment.

M.E., a military veteran who suffers from chronic illness and has a history of involuntary commitments, displayed behaviors that led to his admittance to the inpatient psychiatric unit of the VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. Six days later, a petition was filed to involuntarily commit him for at least 90 days; seven days later, the trial court appointed counsel for M.E. and set a hearing on the petition for the following week. M.E. was ordered to be committed at the hearing.

M.E. didn’t object at trial on any of the bases he asserted as error on appeal, so the majority reviewed his appeal to determine if M.E. established the trial court committed fundamental error. M.E. argued his rights were violated by the trial court when it didn’t issue an order scheduling a hearing within three days of its receipt of the petition to involuntarily commitment him and by not making a timely determination that M.E.’s prehearing detention was supported by probable cause.

Judges Paul Mathias and Terry Crone ruled M.E. did not establish fundamental error and upheld the trial court’s order of regular commitment in In the Matter of Commitment of M.E. v. V.A. Medical Center, No. 49A04-1102-MH-63.

Judge L. Mark Bailey concurred in result, but disagreed with the majority’s decision to allow M.E. to argue fundamental error so as to avoid procedural default.

“I acknowledge that a civil commitment is a significant deprivation of liberty and that this Court has, in the past, entertained an appellant’s argument that a civil commitment is analogous to a criminal trial,” he wrote. “I, however, do not feel at liberty to take the approach of applying the fundamental error rule to civil judgments.”

Bailey pointed out that the Indiana Supreme Court has not embraced the idea and he disagrees with undertaking a fundamental error analysis where waiver would suffice.
 

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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