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Commitment statute not unconstitutional as applied to man with brain injury

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A Marion Superior Court did not violate a defendant’s due process rights in ordering his commitment to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction after finding him incompetent to stand trial. Evan Leedy suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident that killed his girlfriend and injured another driver.

The state charged Leedy, who was driving, with four felony counts of operating while intoxicated stemming from the accident. He suffered a brain injury and was comatose for about a month. He underwent mental evaluations with a court-appointed psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, who split over whether Leedy could be returned to competency.

Representatives of the DMHA testified that Logansport State Hospital, which houses those with mental illness and disability awaiting trial, could provide services for Leedy. Any services the hospital couldn’t provide would be outsourced. DMHA’s chief counsel referenced the agency’s funding constraints on outpatient restorative services and that the agency would work to place Leedy wherever his specific needs could be best met.

Leedy, who has been staying with his mother during this litigation, argued that the commitment statute was unconstitutional as applied to him because I.C. 35-36-3-1 is specifically geared toward those with mental illness or disabilities.

“Leedy’s due process arguments are based on speculation concerning both DMHA’s ability to provide him with the necessary therapeutic services and his own cognitive responses to those services. Essentially, he has asked us to reweigh evidence and make a conclusion that the legislature has specifically delegated to experts in the field of mental competency, a determination that is made after a period of providing services and evaluating the patient/accused,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “This is precisely why the General Assembly outlined such specific procedures, recognizing the delicate balance that exists between the fundamental fairness owed to the accused and the interests of both the public and the accused in the prompt disposition of criminal charges.”

The judges found the commitment statute is not unconstitutional as applied to Leedy and affirmed the commitment order. Judge Michael Barnes wrote separately to highlight what he called inadequacies in the state’s mental health system.

“All agree that the Larue Center in Indianapolis is better-suited to handle the specific type of brain injuries Leedy sustained. I would respectfully, but strongly, suggest that DMHA focus on securing the best and most appropriate treatment for Leedy—wherever that might be. Without providing the best possible services for competency treatment, evaluation, and restoration (if possible), DMHA and the State would possibly be delaying ultimate resolution of this case at the expense of Leedy, his family, the victims, and families of the victims of Leedy’s alleged crimes,” he wrote.

The case is Evan Leedy v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1303-CR-102.
 

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